With pushes for legalization around the country, it’s understandable that you may have begun to rethink marijuana. Should it still be classified as a dangerous drug? Should states legalize and tax? The conversation may have changed. But there’s one thorn in the side of those pushing for legalization. That’s marijuana and education.
Marijuana has a measurable impact on developing minds, and therefore school. Here’s what you should know.
This Isn’t 1970’s marijuana
Your parents may have experimented with marijuana. And you think they turned out okay.
So marijuana couldn’t be impacting your education, could it?
To understand marijuana and education, realize that weed today isn’t the same stuff people were using before. State-level legalization has empowered growers to produce increasingly potent products.
Today marijuana is around 60% more potent than strains from 20 to 30 years ago. It has higher levels of THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana.
Marijuana and Education: Cognitive Decline
A decades-long study of over 1000 New Zealand students found that those who used marijuana at least four times a week had an average IQ eight points lower than the control group. You’ll find a lot of people online trying to debunk this study. But here’s the critical thing to remember. Not all studies found online are well-conducted studies. While not perfect, this study has the hallmarks of good research. It:
- Studied a statistically significant number of people
- They had a control group, which means that some people used it, and some didn’t. So they could compare the groups.
- Was completed over a significant amount of time
That last one is significant. It allowed researchers to not only compare people who use marijuana to those who don’t. It was able to monitor the same person over two-plus decades from young adult to nearly 40. They noted a cognitive decline in those using more marijuana.
In case you’re wondering, an eight-point decline is significant. This marijuana and education connection would plague a person throughout their life, making it harder to learn new things. Remembering what you’ve learned is, no doubt, an essential component of education. Studies show that using marijuana impacts how you form memories. Also, the study found that those using marijuana are highly susceptible to developing false memories.
Additionally, we can look at the long-term effects. Imaging studies show that marijuana may alter the part of the brain responsible for forming and storing memories. This may cause trouble remembering or learning new things as you age. The impacts of marijuana on those who already have dementia are ambiguous at best. That’s because some studies show it may improve memory once dementia is present.
It Alters the Brain
Up until the age of about 25, the human brain is working hard to build out a solid structure. It needs that structure not only to learn while in school but keep learning for a lifetime. If you break this structure, how can you learn how to use the latest smartphone? Thus, you can’t adapt as technologies change how we live.
Studies show marijuana-use by teens, and young adults change the brain in significant ways like:
- Altering how you relate to the world, which may make it harder to deal with life challenges
- Hindering the development of strong brain connections needed for learning
- Reducing blood flow, which in turn cuts off nutrients and oxygen
- Causing troubles with self-control
- Handicapping decision-making skills
Marijuana and Education: Getting Help
Maybe you’re thinking of going back to school. Perhaps you’re still in college. Your marijuana usage could put a damper on your plans. Marijuana will make it harder for you to learn. But it’s hard to stop, especially if you use marijuana as a stress-reliever.
A marijuana treatment program can help you overcome the hold marijuana has over you. In rehab can teach you to manage stress naturally and have a more fulfilling life through an individualized plan that includes therapies like:
- Adventure therapy
- Personalized individual counseling
- Equine (horse) therapy
- Mindfulness-based therapy programs