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Smoke weed in college and grades may go to pot

potCollege students who smoke marijuana appear more likely than their peers to skip classes — which eventually leads to poorer grades and later graduation, a recent study suggests.

The study, which followed more than 1,100 college students for eight years, found that those who smoked pot tended to skip more classes. The more frequent their marijuana use, the more often they missed class.

Those skipped classes, in turn, were linked to a lower grade point average and delayed graduation.

The findings, published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, do not prove that marijuana use was the root cause of students’ academic struggles.

But lead researcher Amelia Arria said her team accounted for a range of other factors, including students’ drinking and other drug use; involvement in sports and other extracurricular activities, and psychological factors such as depression.

They also measured some personality traits, like the tendency to act impulsively to seek “sensation,” said Arria, an associate professor of behavioral and community health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

“We think that skipping-class variable is an important finding,” Arria said.

Besides the obvious effect that would have on grades, it may reflect a broader attitude among college students who regularly smoke pot, said Arria.

“We think they may be less engaged in college life, and may not be taking advantage of all the opportunities it presents,” she said.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the nonprofit organization NORML, said it’s impossible to pin the missed classes on pot, specifically.

“Correlation is not causation, and it would not appear that there is anything unique to cannabis [marijuana] that would cause those who experiment with it to skip classes,” said Armentano, whose group advocates for legal marijuana use.

Instead, he said, it’s more likely that other traits — a student’s tendency to “rebel” or act against “authority,” for instance — are at work.

That said, Armentano added, “our society ideally wants to encourage young people to make healthy lifestyle choices, which includes mitigating their use of intoxicants and being able to discern between use and abuse.”

The findings are based on University of Maryland students, who were followed starting in their freshman year. As freshmen, 37 percent said they’d smoked marijuana at least once in the past 30 days — the average being six days of the month.

Arria’s team found that in general, the more often those freshmen used pot, the more often they skipped class. Skipped classes, in turn, tended to translate into a lower GPA and longer time to graduation.

Over time, if students decreased their pot smoking, grades tended to rebound, the study found. But when pot smoking increased, GPAs tended to drop as well.

To Arria, the findings suggest that college academic help centers should be aware that there’s a connection between pot use and student performance.

“When students go to an academic assistance office, rarely does anyone ask them about alcohol or drug use,” Arria said.

Simply asking students about it might be enough to raise their awareness, she said.

“Students often see marijuana as benign,” Arria noted. “But if you ask them questions like, ‘How often are you smoking marijuana, drinking, partying?’ — that alone may help them be more self-reflective and make better choices.”

Parents, too, should be aware of the connection between marijuana and skipped classes, Arria said: “Parents need to know that their investment in college could be compromised by marijuana use.”

She also suggested that policymakers keep it in mind. “They may want to put academic consequences on the list of things to consider when they’re deciding whether to make marijuana more available,” Arria said.

Armentano had his own take on the policy implications. “These findings reinforce the need for sensible cannabis regulations that seek to better discourage the use of cannabis and the ready access of cannabis by young people,” he said. “That’s a goal that criminal cannabis prohibition has failed to successfully achieve.”

By Amy Norton, HealthDay



Copyright © 2015 HealthDay. All rights reserved. Photo by ashton via Flickr.


  1. As a computer science major I consumed cannabis on a regular basis during my academic career and still managed to graduate cum laude. Stop perpetuating reefer madness and give us unbiased imperical evidence substantiating your claims.

  2. Or, they may not. Consider Carl Sagan or many other accomplished, well-regarded cannabis consumers.

    No one should promote the canard that marijuana is a drug. In truth, it’s a medicinal herb, cultivated, bred, and evolved in service to human beings over thousands of years.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” –John Ehrlichman

    Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011, a study at the University of Colorado found that in the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly nine percent—now nearly ten percent in Michigan—more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent. No wonder Big Alcohol opposes it. Ambitious, unprincipled, profit-driven undertakers might be tempted too.

    In 2012 a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as “the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving”, which “is arguably a positive thing”. Despite occasional accidents, eagerly reported by police-blotter ‘journalists’ as ‘marijuana-related’, a mix of substances was often involved. Alcohol, most likely, and/or prescription drugs, nicotine, caffeine, meth, cocaine, heroin, and a trace of the marijuana passed at a party ten days ago. However, on the whole, as revealed in big-time, insurance-industry stats, within the broad swath of mature, experienced consumers, slower and more cautious driving shows up in significant numbers. A recent Federal study has reached the same conclusion. And legalization should improve those numbers further.

    No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s the most benign ‘substance’ in history. Most people—and particularly patients who medicate with marijuana–use it in place of prescription drugs or alcohol.

    Marijuana has many benefits, most of which are under-reported or never mentioned in American newspapers. Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana is a neuroprotectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. Research in Spain (the Guzman study) and other countries have discovered that it also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

    Drugs are man-made, cooked up in labs, for the sake of patents and the profits gained by them. Often useful, but typically burdened with cautionary notes and lists of side effects as long as one’s arm. ‘The works of Man are flawed.’

    Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. “Cannabis” in Latin, and “kanah bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair. Why despair? Consider the current medical term for cannabis sativa: a “mood elevator”. . . as opposed to antidepressants, which ‘flatten out’ emotions, leaving patients numb to both depression and joy.

    The very name, “Christ” translates as “the anointed one”. Well then, anointed with what? It’s a fair question. And it wasn’t holy water, friends. Holy water came into wide use in the Middle Ages. In Biblical times, it was used by a few tribes of Greek pagans. But Christ was neither Greek nor pagan.

    Medicinal oil, for the Prince of Peace. A formula from the Biblical era has been rediscovered. It specifies a strong dose of oil from kanah bosom, ‘the fragrant cane’ of a dozen uses: ink, paper, rope, nutrition. . . . It was clothing on their backs and incense in their temples. And a ‘skinful’ of medicinal oil could certainly calm one’s nerves, imparting a sense of benevolence and connection with all living things. No wonder that the ‘anointed one’ could gain a spark, an insight, a sense of the divine, and the confidence to convey those feelings to friends and neighbors.

    I am appalled at the number of ‘Christian’ politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.

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