Does Cannabis Use Affect Academic Performance?

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According to research by Monitoring the Future, perhaps induced by the pandemic, cannabis use by university students in 2020 is at levels that haven’t been seen since the 1980s.

Monitoring the Future surveys yearly on alcohol and drug use in teens and young adults.

What is making marijuana use so popular among college/university students today?

How Many University Students Use Cannabis?

Research has concluded that individuals report using weed to experience heightened feelings, feel high, cope with specific moods and emotions, or have more meaningful social connections.

For older teens and young adults during the early part of the pandemic, there were moderate decreases in enthusiasm for using weed for festive reasons as well as a minor increase in weed use because of boredom, possibly due to early quarantining at home and physical distancing mandates.

Though, among the reasons for using, both before and during the pandemic, is emotions of pleasure or the high correlation with cannabis use.

Researchers do not know the influence of these fluctuating motivations for using pot yet or whether patterns researchers observe during the pandemic will stay up at the same rates or go back to baseline.

The last three reports from Monitoring the Future showed that 44% of university students reported marijuana use last year, with the remaining 56% of students writing no cannabis use.

Does Cannabis Use Affect Performance Academically?

Scientists and researchers that work with university students will hear students discuss topics such as cannabis is “natural,” “safe,” and things it’s “just pot.”

Although, research would suggest a different take on the risks of cannabis use.

This is especially true with the higher THC potency of marijuana that has flooded the legal cannabis markets throughout North America.

Research often proves that the more regularly a student uses weed, their GPA is usually lower, it takes them longer to graduate, and they skip more classes than their counterparts.

Academic performance and cannabis use show higher impaired memory and attention.

Though studies show students who can abstain from cannabis use, cognitive performance improves. However, it can take 28 days of abstinence.

Are There Any Educational Benefits with Weed Use?

As of now,w there are no studies that show improved academic or educational benefits of cannabis use.

Science is trying to play catch-up on the marijuana products being sold today.

There are many types of cannabinoids in weed. However, THC, the psychoactive component usually connected with the “high” from cannabis use, is the most well studied.

THC concentrations in the US in the 1970s were under 2%, and it would reach 3% in the 1980s, with a slight increase to 4% by the mid-1990s and then it quickly rose to 15% by 2018.

There are even higher concentrations through the legal markets than ever before.


In Washington state, a flower commonly exceeds 20% THC. Although, concentrates that include hash oil, dabs, and other products, usually are over 65% THC.

Marijuana products classified as “high potency” mean anything over 10% THC.

Higher potency cannabis use leads to higher risks of cannabis use disorder and mental health issues.

The younger the person is, the more vulnerable to adverse effects of cannabis use.

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Dean Mathers


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