Reasons why students smoke marijuana and how it negatively affects their academic performance

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Marijuana use among college students is a widespread phenomenon, with approximately 43% of students reporting any cannabis use in the past year and 25% reporting use in the past months.

There are several reasons why students may choose to smoke marijuana, including to feel the high, experience enhanced feelings, increase social connections, and cope with certain feelings and moods.

However, research consistently shows that marijuana use negatively impacts academic performance, leading to lower GPAs, increased class skipping, and longer time to graduation.

There are several key reasons why some students smoke marijuana:

To feel the high and enhanced feelings

Previous research has consistently shown that people, including students, report using marijuana primarily to experience the psychoactive effects and altered state of mind it produces.

To increase social connections

Students may use marijuana to feel more socially connected with their peers who also use it.

To cope with feelings and moods

Some students turn to marijuana as a way to manage certain feelings, moods, anxiety or restlessness.

Peer pressure and availability

Factors like peer group influence, accessibility and availability of marijuana can lead students to start using it.

Misconceptions about safety

Some students mistakenly believe marijuana is “safe”, “natural” or “no big deal”, but research shows potential risks, especially with high potency products.

However, it’s important to note that the majority of college students do not use marijuana.

For example, while 43-44% reported any use in the past year, only about 25% used in the past month, meaning 75% did not.

So while marijuana use is common, not using it is still the most prevalent behavior among students.

Marijuana use can have significant negative consequences for students’ academic performance and success:

Students who use marijuana more frequently tend to skip more classes, which leads to lower GPAs and delayed graduation.

For example, during the first year of college, students who used marijuana more often skipped more classes, resulting in lower GPAs and taking longer to graduate.

Over time, increases in marijuana use are directly associated with declines in GPA.

As students use marijuana more, their grades tend to drop, and conversely, grades rebound as marijuana use declines.

Marijuana use is linked to impaired attention and memory, which are key cognitive abilities needed for academic success.

However, these cognitive deficits can improve after 28 days of abstinence from marijuana.

While 43-44% of college students report using marijuana in the past year, the majority (56-57%) do not use.

Not using marijuana is still the most common behavior among students. However, marijuana use has reached levels not seen since the 1980s, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In summary, frequent marijuana use is incompatible with regular class attendance and academic engagement, with clear consequences for students’ grades and time to graduation.

Marijuana use can directly impair cognitive abilities needed for academic success, but these deficits may be reversible with abstinence.

Colleges should consider enforcing anti-drug policies and providing interventions to help students reduce marijuana use and succeed academically.

Marijuana use has been linked to significant negative impacts on students’ mental health.

Research suggests that frequent marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, particularly in young adults.

Key Findings:

Increased Risk of Psychiatric Disorders

Studies have found that marijuana use is linked to a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, especially in young adults.

Adolescent Brain Development

Marijuana use during adolescence can have lasting effects on brain development, including changes to the reward system and trouble with thinking and remembering.

Cannabis Use Disorder

Marijuana use disorder is characterized by symptoms such as increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and failure to meet responsibilities due to marijuana use.

This disorder is associated with high rates of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and ADHD.

Impaired Cognitive Function

Marijuana use can impair cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, and problem-solving, which are essential for academic success.

Legalization and Increased Use

Legalization of recreational marijuana in many states has led to increased use among young adults, particularly in areas where it is easily accessible.

Impact on Mental Health

Marijuana use can exacerbate existing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and may even contribute to the development of new mental health problems.

Long-term Consequences

The long-term effects of marijuana use on mental health are still being studied, but research suggests that it can have lasting impacts on brain development and increase the risk of addiction and other mental health issues.

Recommendations:

Increased Education and Awareness:

Educational campaigns should be implemented to raise awareness about the potential risks of marijuana use, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

Regulation of THC Concentration

Regulation of THC levels in marijuana products is crucial to ensure that users are not consuming harmful amounts of the psychoactive ingredient.

Support for Mental Health

Mental health support services should be available to students who are struggling with marijuana use or other mental health issues.

Monitoring and Research

Continuous monitoring and research are necessary to understand the full extent of marijuana use and its impact on mental health, particularly among students.

By acknowledging these risks and implementing measures to mitigate them, we can work towards promoting healthier and more productive lifestyles for students.

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