Examining the Effect of Marijuana in the School

Adolescence is a time for experimentation. High school and middle school students are exposed to many opportunities to engage in risky behavior. They are often first introduced to drugs, alcohol, and sex during these socially challenging years. Marijuana is one common drug that teens experiment with. Many of them see this as a harmless drug and do not associate it with the negative consequences attached to other drugs, such as heroin, opioids, or cocaine. However, it is well established that marijuana use can decrease a student’s academic motivation. It is also referred to as “the gateway drug” because it is believed that the innocuous perceptions about marijuana use open the door of opportunity for other drugs that are thought to be more dangerous.

Although there is abundant research demonstrating the negative effects of marijuana use, few have looked at the outcomes of in-school use versus out-of-school use. To address this gap, Kristin V. Finn of the Department of Adolescence Education at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, recently led a study that evaluated the social and academic behavior of 1,112 high school students from 11 separate high schools. She looked specifically at class involvement, attendance, grade point average, disciplinary records, and unethical and dishonest academic behavior.

Despite communities’ efforts to diminish drug use among teens, Finn found that approximately one in three students had used marijuana, and almost 20% reported having used it at school. Half of those who identified as general users also disclosed having used marijuana at school. The general users fared worse on all behavior and academic measures than the students who had no history of marijuana use. This was even more pronounced in the students who were in-school users. In particular, the students with in-school use had the lowest levels of academic integrity, attendance, and classroom involvement. Finn believes the reasons a student chooses to use marijuana may be many, including poor classroom supervision, peer pressure, or as a means of coping with threatening and victimizing environments. Despite the reasons for using, this study demonstrates the effect it has on adolescents. Finn added, “The results showed clearly that the educational correlates of marijuana use are significant and more pronounced for students who use marijuana during the school day.”

Finn, K. V. (2012). Marijuana use at school and achievement-linked behaviors. The High School Journal, 95.3, 2-13.

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Rhett

    May 22nd, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    My question is how are these students able to smoke marijuana during the school day? Where are the parents and the teachers?
    My parents and teachers both watched all of us like hawks, we would have never even had the chance to smaoke even if we had really wanted to!
    I mean come on, maybe there is a lack of supervision here that we need to be having a conversation about too!

  • stoppedchain

    November 26th, 2018 at 2:33 PM

    have you ever heard of edibles.

  • Natalie

    May 22nd, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    I had never bought into the idea that marijuana was a gateway drug until my own son started jexperimenting with it in the 8the grade. It was then that I realized how placing little import on marijuana kind of skewed and not in a good way the things that I taught him about saying no to drugs. I should have taught him that contrary to what he may hear, pot is just as dangerous and addictive as other drugs. It’s taken him several stints of rehab and may years of therapy to come to grips with that.

  • stoppedchain

    November 26th, 2018 at 2:38 PM

    umm thats not true at all. Weed is way less additive than alcohol and less deadly

  • rachel

    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    is it that they are performing poorly due to marijuana use or is it due to another factor that is not only bringing about the poor performance but is also pushing them to seek a high?

    you see a student who is goin to be irresponsible with his academics and behavior is going to be so in any case, marijuana or no marijuana. and there are a lot of students out there who are doing well in school while they are users of marijuana.the only threat to them? the illegality of their harmless activity!

  • Robert

    May 23rd, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    I am pretty stunned that marijuana is still such a big thing in school. I know that it was fairly prevalent in the 70s when I was coming through school. But I know that there are so many other things that kids are involved in today that I would have thought that this use would have faded. Since it hasn’t though, I know from personal experience that it can’t be good to have this in school. I have tried it before and could not concentrate on anything. To think that a kid could go to school and learn anything or do well on tests or even mingle with others normally while under the influence is ludicrous.

  • Pearson

    May 23rd, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Seriously does it really matter if kids are using in or out of school?

    What difference does that make?

    Undoubtedly if they are using on a consistent basis, no matter where they use then school is going to suffer. They probably won’t go the way that they need to and I would be willing to bet that schoolwork and performance will definitely take a dive.

    I urge any parent who notices this kind of behavior to have a serious talk with your kids, even drug test them. Because this is not something that you want to let get out of hand for too long.

  • Kevin

    May 23rd, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Obviously, our policy of outright prohibition of marijuana has not reduced use or availability. In Holland, where marijuana is sold openly at coffee shops, the use rate for youths is 1/3 of the use rate in the U.S. Drug dealers don’t check ID’s, but liquor store owners do. That’s why it is harder for kids to get booze than marijuana. 75 years of marijuana prohibition has been a failure. Also, 3 million kids are prescribed ADD drugs like Adderall, which is methamphetamine. So much for “just say no”.

  • Joey

    May 23rd, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Sorry but its just a little hard to get over worked about marijuana. I’d be MUCH more concerned with underage drinking, prescription drug abuse, or cigarette smoking. The only reason marijuana is readily available is because of prohibition. We need to legalize, tax, and regulate. That takes the drugs out of the drug dealers hands and into the supermarket, where they always check for ID. And ANY parent who tells their kid marijuana is just as addictive and dangerous as cocaine or beer is an idiot. When that kid does try some weed (they all try it at least once) your going to lose any and all credibility you might have had. Then that kids thinks “well, weed is no big deal. I guess a little coke shouldn’t be a big deal either”. If you can’t raise your kid with honesty and common sense, don’t expect any from your kid in return.

  • SW

    May 24th, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Whichever side you’re on,you would agree to one thing.And that is that the war against drugs has failed and it serious needs a re look.Im not saying just legalize drugs in a day but the policy requires a revisit.

  • madge

    May 24th, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Has there ever been anyone who seriously thought that marijuana would improve one’s school performance?

    If there has been, then this is someone who needs to have his head examined, pronto!

  • Warren P.

    September 16th, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Why poor millions into the schools when kids have access to something that thwarts academic progress. We want our money’s worth. Schools are not glass pipe salons. Smoke in bed and make an ash out of yourself.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.