Want to Go to College? Then Stop Smoking Pot

There's a lot of argument over how marijuana use might affect young people throughout their formidable years, but a lack of solid data to help figure it out. That leaves many parents in the dark when it comes to making decisions about use and legalization.

A study published in the July edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs indicates that smoking weed could seriously impact the path to higher education for teens and young adults. Researchers from Canada’s University of Victoria found that marijuana use reduces the odds of people between the ages of 15 and 25 entering college.

Marijuana Should be a Concern for Parents

Researchers used information from a long-term project called the Victoria Healthy Youth Survey to determine the impact of marijuana use on the odds that young students will attend college or seek other educational opportunities after high school. With data from 632 survey enrollees, researchers were able to identify patterns of marijuana use between the ages of 15 and 25. In addition, they looked at each participant’s grades in high school, relative level of behavioral problems, family background and gender.

After completing an analysis, they concluded that individuals who used marijuana frequently were significantly more likely to have behavioral problems and do poorly in high school. What’s more, these individuals had the lowest odds of attending college or otherwise extending their education beyond high school. Conversely, the study participants who did not use marijuana had a low level of involvement in behavioral problems, did relatively well in school and had the highest odds of continuing their education past high school.

Additional Problems for Students

The Canadian study isn’t the only one alerting parents to the dangers of smoking weed. Another recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, a British journal of health research, backs up the idea that marijuana use among young adults seriously hampers a college education. This study found that a person who uses cannabis once a month has slightly lower odds of graduating high school or getting a college degree, compared to a person who doesn't use at all. They found "clear and consistent associations between frequency of cannabis use during adolescence and most negative young adult outcomes investigated.”

What Does This Mean?

Despite the fact that medical marijuana has been legalized in more than 20 states, there is clear evidence to show that THC can – and does – harm the brain cells of young adults. Regions of the brain involved in emotional processing, motivation, and rewards are all affected in young smokers, making them less likely to achieve their potential. Parents concerned about seeing their children succeed in life should discourage marijuana use altogether.

Learn more about the warning signs of marijuana abuse and dependence

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