Marijuana Consumption: Does it Affect Post-Secondary Students Academically?

Marijuana consumption amongst post-secondary students may be having an effect on their academic performance.

Canadians are beginning to prepare for the legalization of marijuana to arrive in the spring of 2017, but the question of the drugs affects academically on college students is still a topic that is widely talked about.

According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, daily marijuana use among college students in 2014 reached its highest level in the past 30 years.

In an over the phone interview, 20 year-old Brady Anderson describes himself as an avid pot smoker, stating that he smokes at least once a day.

SAIT resident, who prefers not to be named, shows off his pipe and grinder.

“I find marijuana to be a huge stress reliever,” Anderson said, ”I usually smoke to put my mind at ease after a long stressful day.”

Anderson attended the University of Victoria for business back in 2014, but dropped out after his first year due to stress and poor grades.

“I would say smoking marijuana affected me academically, not that it made me dumb or anything, I just found it to be a nice release from stress to the point where I would rather smoke than actually do my work,” Anderson said.

Anthony Humphreys, a current second year business student at SAIT, occasionally smokes marijuana and finds it to have a different effect on him academically.

“I find myself focusing more on studying after I smoke a joint,” Humphreys said in a face-to-face interview, “I don’t think it gets in the way of my schooling at all, it might actually help me sometimes.”

Although Humphreys believes smoking marijuana help increase his focus, he also finds himself feeling tired after feeling the high for a while.

He describes his tiredness as the main issue, saying that it decreases the amount of time he spends staying up to study.

But, in order to avoid this problem, Humphreys tries to limit his smoking time to right before he goes to bed.

“I’m not stupid when it comes to smoking pot. I’m not going to smoke a joint if I have a huge paper I have to write,” Humphreys said, “I know when the right time to smoke is, and I know when the wrong time to smoke is.”

A study done by the Department of Behavioural and Community Health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health showed that marijuana use in college students can be “a barrier in academic achievement.”

“Students who used marijuana more frequently during the first year of college tended to skip more of their classes, which, in turn, contributed to their tendency to earn lower grades,” the study showed, “similar effects were also observed for baseline measures of alcohol use and other illicit drug use.”

Allison Cook, a second year student in the criminal justice program at the University of Calgary, feels as though more harm would be caused academically with excessive alcohol use rather than marijuana use.

“I find alcohol gets in the way of my schooling,” Cook said in an over the phone interview, “if I go out for drinks on a school night, it’s pretty much a write off for me the next day. Or even if I drink on the weekends, it makes me less likely to do homework the next day because I just don’t have any motivation after a night of drinking.”

Cook said that she barely smokes marijuana, but believes that it would have less of an affect academically than alcohol would.

When asked if alcohol had a greater effect on academic success than marijuana, Anderson said that weed was worse.

“I smoked everyday in direct replacement of studying or even going to class, and I only drank twice a week after I had to deal with school, quizzes, and deadlines,”Anderson said.

Humphreys found marijuana to be no harm to his academic performance.

“Students just have to find a nice balance between the two and be able to smoke when it’s an appropriate time to do so, not smoke when they have class, need to study, or have an assignment due,” Humphreys said, “If they can smoke in moderation, I think students will have no problem academically.”

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