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Bisexuals use cannabis more frequently for coping, enhancement

Young people classified as bisexual not only use cannabis more frequently but also are more likely to use it to cope with mental health issues and for what researchers call experiential “enhancement.”

A recent study, titled “The Pot at the End of the Rainbow,” is one of the first to examine motives for cannabis use among sexual minorities quantitatively. Led by Washington State University psychologists, researchers analyzed survey data from nearly 4,700 university students from across the country. Of the participants, 23% were classified as bisexual after indicating that they were not exclusively attracted to one gender.

Kyle Schofield.
Schofield

The group classified as bisexual was more likely to report using cannabis to cope as well as for enhancement, which is a bit surprising,” said Kyle Schofield, a WSU Ph.D. candidate in psychology and first author on the study published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. “The coping motive was less surprising because we also saw that the group classified as bisexual reported higher levels of all the mental health problems that we looked at in the study.”

The bisexual group reported higher levels of cannabis use disorder, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, depression and suicidality than either the groups classified as exclusively “straight” or “gay”—findings that are in line with previous research.

Carrie Cuttler.
Cuttler

For this study, Schofield worked with his advising professor Carrie Cuttler to analyze archival data from an Addictions Research Team survey, which combines participant pools from 10 universities across the U.S.

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Hikers may create ‘landscape of fear’ for animals

Hikers appear to have a strong negative influence on the movement of wildlife, research finds.

A study of Glacier National Park hiking trails during and after a COVID-19 closure adds evidence to the theory that humans can create a “landscape of fear,” as do other apex predators. Their presence seems to change how species use an area.

Researchers found that when human hikers were present, 16 out of 22 mammal species—predators and prey alike—changed where and when they used areas. Some completely abandoned places they previously used, others used them less frequently, and some shifted to more nocturnal activities to avoid humans.

Daniel Thornton.
Thornton

“When the park was open to the public, and there were a lot of hikers and recreators using the area, we saw a bunch of changes in how animals were using that same area,” says Daniel Thornton, wildlife ecologist at Washington State University and senior author of the study in the journal Scientific Reports.

“The surprising thing is that there’s no other real human disturbance out there because Glacier is such a highly protected national park, so these responses really are being driven by human presence and human noise.”

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WSU Graduate School fills two vacant associate vice provost positions

Greg Crouch.
Crouch

The Washington State University Graduate School has appointed Chemistry Professor Gregory J. Crouch as associate vice provost for graduate academic programs. Management and Entrepreneurship Professor Arvin Sahaym has been named associate vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives with the Graduate School.

Both appointments began with the start of the Spring 2023 semester.

In his new role as associate vice provost for graduate academic programs, Crouch will serve as liaison between the Graduate School and Faculty Senate Graduate Studies Committee and support assessment and data review processes. He will also oversee the transformation of the Graduate Mentor Academy.

Crouch holds a doctorate in organic chemistry from WSU and has been a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry since 1996. He currently serves as interim director of graduate studies and associate chair in the Department of Chemistry.

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WSU Insider

Spokane NAACP president: Acknowledging history necessary to racial healing

Following the National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, Spokane NAACP President Kiantha Duncan gave a talk on racial healing and politics in the Foley Speaker room on the Washington State University Campus in Pullman.

Duncan emphasized that the discussion was a place for everyone to have a conversation about what racial healing meant and how it could differ person to person. For some people, like Duncan’s grandmother, it could mean living in a white neighborhood without fear.

“Thinking about racism being of determinant of health — I think of it like cancer,” Duncan said.

She started with a story about two friends who both have cancer, one who found a bulge and went to get tested and the other who found it during a check up. Racism, Duncan said, is like cancer and can be out in the open or hidden. Jim Crow laws, for example, would be cancer you can see, Duncan said.

The whole discussion can be viewed online on the Foley Institute YouTube channel at bit.ly/3GR4bZw.

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Likely Cause of Common Penis Birth Defect Identified

Hypospadias, the most common genital malformation in male babies is due to environmental factors, such as toxicant exposure, which alter epigenetic programming in a forming penis, stated a new study.

Conversely, epigenetic alternations were not found in penile tissue samples taken from the foreskin of healthy babies without hypospadias, according to the Washington State University-led analysis.

The research helps answer long-standing questions surrounding the increased frequency and potential root cause of hypospadias, a birth defect in which the opening of the urethra is located on the underside of the penis instead of the tip.
Michael Skinner.
Skinner

“Previous researchers have done extensive analyses and not found any kind of genetic DNA sequence mutations that correlate with the presence of the disease, so there has always been a big question mark regarding where it comes from,” said Michael Skinner, corresponding senior author of the study and a WSU professor of biology. “Our study shows the etiology of the disease is environmentally driven through epigenetics rather than a result of changes to the DNA sequence. It gives us a clearer picture of what is going on.”

While the research is still in an early stage of development, it could ultimately lead to earlier detection and better clinical management of hypospadias, the prevalence of which has increased by 11.5% in recent decades, making it the most common genital malformation in newborn males.

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