Marijuana Use Tied to Poorer School Performance

When high school students started smoking marijuana regularly they were less likely to get good grades and want to pursue university, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

The study, published in the Journal of School Health, found that when students started using marijuana at least once a month they were about four times more likely to skip class, two-to-four times less likely to complete their homework and value getting good grades, and about half as likely to achieve high grades, than when they had never used the drug.

The study also asked students the highest level of education they would like and expect to achieve. Results indicated that when students started smoking marijuana daily, their likelihood of reporting ambitions to pursue university, as opposed to stopping at high school or before, was about 50 percent lower than when they had never used the drug.

“The findings support the importance of preventing and delaying the initiation of marijuana use among adolescents,” said Scott Leatherdale, a professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems and head of COMPASS, the largest longitudinal study of substance use among youth. “More youth today use marijuana than cigarettes, yet public health prevention efforts lag behind those of alcohol and tobacco.”

The human brain actively develops until a person reaches their early twenties. Studies suggest that adults who smoked the drug regularly during adolescence exhibit reduced neural connectivity in regions responsible for memory, learning and inhibitions.

“We’ve seen reductions in the number of youth perceiving marijuana as harmful, yet they have greater vulnerability to adverse consequences,” said Karen Patte, a post-doctoral fellow and lead author of the paper. “We found that the more frequently students started using the drug, the greater their risk of poor school performance and engagement.”

The study also looked at the effects of alcohol use on academic aspirations and expectations. Unlike marijuana, students initiating regular alcohol use tended to report goals to pursue post-secondary education.

“Drinking has long been tied to university settings, which may make alcohol a more acceptable substance choice for students planning to attend university,” said Leatherdale. “All substances present risks to health and well-being. With marijuana legalisation on the horizon, it’s critical we understand these risks in order to promote successful transitions into adulthood for our youth.”

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“When Sadie started in Grade 2 this year I immediately noticed that she was struggling in all academic areas. Her handwriting was large and she was unable to write in the books with smaller lines. Sadie also struggled with constructing sentences. They were usually grammatically incorrect and had spelling errors. She also found it very challenging to grasp new concepts in Mathematics and was often unable to do the exercises correctly in class. Sadie’s assessment marks were low and even with one on one intervention she would still battle to complete the task at hand.

“I had received a small promotional goodie bag from Edublox and recommended to Mr and Mrs Howell that they could send Sadie to Edublox for extra support. Sadie started at Edublox and I saw a huge improvement throughout Term 2. Her handwriting had improved drastically, it was smaller and neater. Sadie was able to confidently construct sentences with spelling words and her spelling test results were excellent. Her reading has also improved and she reads at a faster pace and has developed a positive attitude towards reading. Sadie has also gained coping skills from Edublox that have enabled her to find different ways of grasping Mathematical concepts and she confidently completes her tasks. She also asks for help when she finds an activity challenging. Overall I have seen Sadie make tremendous improvement, which I am so proud of, as she has also put in the effort and loves succeeding in her academics. I hope she continues to grow and reach her full potential.”

Mrs Webster
Grade 2 Teacher
Cliffview Primary School

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More information:

Edublox clinics specialise in cognitive training that makes learners smarter, and helps them learn and read faster, easier, and better. The classes address:

* Concentration: Focused and sustained attention.

* Perceptual skills: Visual and auditory foreground-background differentiation; visual and auditory discrimination, synthesis and analysis; form discrimination; spatial relations.

* Memory: Visual, auditory, sequential, iconic, short-term, long-term and working memory.

* Logical thinking: Deductive and inductive reasoning.

* Reading, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension.

Classes are offered in English and Afrikaans. Contact us

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May 14, 2017

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