Jun 142013
 

Marijuana dumb stupid brain cells academics college studyingOne of my biggest pet peeves is when non-marijuana consumers assume that I am less intelligent than they are, simply because I consume marijuana and they don’t. It’s a stereotype that I have dealt with for more than half of my life. Do readers have to deal with this as often as I do? For what it’s worth to readers, I graduated from college, and was selected as ‘student of the year’ for my program, and I smoked marijuana everyday. Below is an article that deals with this very issue, and the debate over whether marijuana gets in the way of success in college:

By Amanda Reiman, Drug Policy Alliance

A recent article in USA Today about a report by the University of Maryland School of Public Health claims that marijuana use is the cause of academic downfall, including making students less likely to complete college and increasing the likelihood of unemployment after graduation.

However, a closer look at the actual study reveals a more complicated picture than USA Today would have you believe.

The USA Today article lacks face validity. Even from the title, “Study: Marijuana use increases risk of academic problems,” the public is going to be skeptical.  After all, we know that our last three presidents used marijuana, as have Steve Jobs, Carl Sagan and a host of others that we don’t buy as having “academic problems.”

Alcohol use has been mysteriously omitted from the USA Today article about the study. When looking at the original report, it can be seen that alcohol use is occurring at a higher rate than marijuana use (95% of fourth year college students have had a drink compared to 63% who have tried marijuana).

Furthermore, outcomes such as discontinued college education and the inability to find a job after college could very well have more to do with the illicit nature of marijuana and the collateral sanctions associated with its use, then the impact of the psychoactive properties of marijuana.

Requirements regarding the disclosure of a felony conviction to obtain employment are another barrier that has little to do with the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

In the actual report, the conclusions are more nuanced than those in USA Today. The authors of the study conclude that it is “excessive” drinking and substance use that put kids at risk for poor academic performance. The authors report that these issues often begin in high school and could be related to mental health issues.

The real take home messages from this study? First, adolescents who are drinking and/or using substances (including prescription drugs) excessively while in high school should be paid attention. They could be self-medicating for an undiagnosed mental health issue, or having a tough time socially or academically.

Secondly, using alcohol and marijuana seem to be a normative part of the college experience since they are so common, but, for some students, they can be part of a chain reaction that includes lower academic performance and adjustment. Services should be freely available to students who are struggling.

Finally, although not explicitly mentioned, policies that interrupt and prevent access to education because of substance use should be reconsidered. The report authors state that the more engaged the student is with their academic activities, the less likely they are to use alcohol and other substances excessively.

Is denying access to education and employment a way to make young people more engaged? Not likely.

In addition to providing services for students who find themselves using alcohol and/or other substances excessively, college campuses should actively speak out against the collateral sanctions of substance use that are standing in the way of educational obtainment.

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Lyn

    I am a Ph.D. student, and I use medical marijuana nearly every day for arthritis pain. I have straight A’s. Anyone who thinks MJ makes you stupid is obviously not paying attention to the whole picture. Good article.

  • Mike

    Yep, looking at marijuana and college while omitting alcohol and college pretty much shoots down any substance that might be found in the UM’s rehashing of old myths.

    I’m a non-traditional student who returned to school in middle-age. Not quite straight As as an undergrad (there was that B+ with the snooty rightwing Chicago School political scientist), I did graduate with Highest Honors for my Honors program undergraduate thesis. Currently finishing my diss and hope to defend shortly. It’s going to rock the Pentagon a little…;)

    At the same time, the usual teaching duties (rated especially well by my students a couple of times, too) and served 6 years as the executive officer of a media non-profit with a significant domestic and international presence.

    Long-time medical user due to a spinal injury. Doesn’t seem to have hurt me academically. I will say that the non-herbal alternatives leave me too zonked to do much of any of this. Should I be legal…or smart and productive?

    The Revolution probably won’t start unless I’m helping, so “Hasta la victoria siempre!”

  • Pat Cowdin

    While the USA Today article focuses on marijuana use, the actual University of Maryland report contains a great deal of information about alcohol use and abuse by college students, as well as cannabis and prescription drugs. In fact, after reading the report, you might conclude that USA Today did not fairly represent the findings of the researchers.

    • Mike

      Well, USA Today is to journalism as community college is to university, so no surprise there. Guess I should have followed the study link and read it first. Not really anything new there that I can see, mostly the same therapeutic gobblygook you hear from folks that are pained by the idea that somewhere, somehow, people are enjoying life more than they are. There should be consequences, they think.

      I’d like to see a study where they take a group of problem drinkers, divide them into an experimental group and a control group, then let the control group go on drinking, while the other half switches to marijuana. Give it a couple of years and then compare notes — and grades.

      Because the whole idea of a substance-free college career is just unAmerican. Don’t over do it, go to class, take notes, study them, and turn your work in on time. Works for me.

      • Pat Cowdin

        I like your idea! But it might be difficult to find serious drinkers willing (or able) to give up their booze. On the other hand, most cannabis smokers can start and stop without much effort. That in itself must mean something.

      • Miles Monroe

        “USA Today is to journalism as community college is to university” ?!

        That’s a TERRIBLE insult to community colleges!

        • Mike

          Hey, I’m a community college graduate. I’ve also been to the big U. There is little comparison in terms of the rigor and expectations, other then the fact that most of the students at either sort of institution really don’t work at gaining everything they could.

          I wasn’t trying to condemn either the CCs or USA Today, just noting the limitations in expectations between the two are similar. It doesn’t mean that the Big U doesn’t fall short. Or that the NY Times doesn’t end up in the end also falling short of what it could be if it tried harder.

          For instance, just last night I wrote a quite reasonable comment to the NY Times editorial on the racial nature of the “war on marijuana” that observed the editorial board did a pretty fair job of observing that phenomenon.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/opinion/sunday/racially-biased-arrests-for-pot.html?hp

          The only problem was the Times’ editorial board didn’t call for the only solution that will solve the racist nature of the “war on marijuana” — legalization.

          They closed comments later Saturday evening after publishing just three, none of which noted that obvious flaw in their otherwise thoughtful approach to the matter. My trenchant, studied, and gentle comments — posted well before the cutoff time — to that effect apparently went too far in questioning their coming up short of where they needed to be if they really cared about the matter enough to solve it, rather than mouthing the typical liberal platitudes about wishing we could do better as a nation.

          If they had handed me that editorial to be graded, it was, at best, definitely B level work. Nice writing, but won’t get you into grad school with such a weak argument.

          Just calling them as I see them.

          Heck, I’ll probably end up teaching at a CC. They do good, vital work, as they do have the chops to prepare those with the gumption to work at advancing beyond a two-year institution. And those who aren’t should still stand to gain. But there are differences in expectations and the results from them. Kind of like the NY Times, they’re all good kids, some try harder and some just go through the motions and write a graceful, if ultimately unpersuasive paper.

          • Mike

            Just wanted to note that the NY Times comment editors were just slow this morning. They did finally post my comments, along with a bunch more. I never have much faith in them, but this has at least put our relationship back to “we’ll tolerate each other.”

          • Miles Monroe

            We were only expressing the view that USA Today, as opposed to community colleges, is pretty much devoid of any positive social function, though it undoubtably makes somebody a lot of money.

            Maybe “homeschooling by evangelical neo-nazis” would be a more accurate educational comparison … ;-)

  • Fester09

    Sucessful engineer and daily weed smoker here. The people I saw have the most academic/ disciplinary problems in college were those drinking a lot of alcohol regularly. They’d miss more classes because of hangovers, etc. too. While my roommate, for example, would study high, take the test high, and get high marks! He graduated with a 4.0 GPA in poly sci and is now a lawyer. The problem is the weed smokers with careers or high pay jobs are sometimes afraid of being fired and/or arrested, so the cheech and chong stereotype prevails in some non-smokers. Someday this will change; it has already started!

    • Fester09

      oh and I forgot to mention my buddy kicked out of school because of an off campus weed arrest. I agree with Johnny whole-heartedly, denying access to education is never the answer for anything! It makes no sense!

  • CVWaller

    I started smoking cannabis at 14 1/2. I smoked and used LSD & mescaline routinely the next 2 years. I was a semi-finalist in PSAT / National Merit Scholarship competition. I moved to Florida my senior year, increased cannabis use and occasionally used mushrooms. I was a Finalist in the NMS competition based on SAT scores and earned 13.25 credit hours through CLEP exam at FAU in Boca Raton. I started FAU right out of high school on a 3 yr. program for BS-EE. I left after 1 semester and have never gone back. I have never stopped studying and learning, but I did stop smoking for 8.5 years.

    Cannabis is not a dangerous drug, it is a beneficial plant.

  • Krymsun

    I was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist, one of 3 in my hometown, in the year I graduated (1968). Yes, I was a nerd, in the chess club, and into science-fiction. I managed to stay out of the draft on a student deferment for about a year. I chose to enlist, rather than suffer being drafted, and lose all choice of service-duty. I was accepted into Army Intelligence, and served in Vietnam as a linguist and intelligence analyst. I later served another, separate hitch on Okinawa. After the Army, I got an AA degree in Computer Programming, and have been employed as a programmer. I worked for years in Market Research till, before I retired, I had been advanced to Quality Assurance, continuing the training of new interviewers, after most of a decade working my way up through the ranks as an interviewer, when I was consistently one of the most productive, setting the mark in the shop. I have used cannabis during most of my adult life, more of the 40 years than not, though I have endured months of going without. I still consider myself as having an above average I.Q. Just very recently I found this – An article on Collective Evolution said the study suggested the activation of the brain’s cannabinoid system triggers the release of antioxidants, which act as a cleansing mechanism. Such a process may remove damaged cells and improve the efficiency of mitochondria, the energy source that powers cells, it added, improving stamina and removing damaged brain cells.
    http://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2013/06/14/Marijuana-May-Improve-Stamina-Rejuvenate-Brain-Says-Study

    • Rick Gordon

      Macv Team 30

  • phaggot phill

    i know some very stupid people who have not touched marijuana ever in their life and i know professors that smoke weed every day. if anything it makes people smarter because they are more self aware when they smoke, it make me realize that you dont have to act like a fucking faggot to make people like you

    • The Blacksican

      Dude fuck ya man I hear ya there!!! Right on dude!

  • https://twitter.com/ThinkingKlearly Thinking Clearly

    Faulty studies done with preconceived conclusions and reefer madness paradigm’s need to be restudied. Our government has always paid big money to colleges who cater to results the Feds like to hear- and pay big for. Staying in their good graces has become like seeing the world through the rose colored glasses of the war on drugs.

  • AnaMalika

    Thank you for expressing what I’m sure many highly intelligent, productive people who use marijuana feel. We are in a unique position to speak eloquently about the truth of marijuana and dispel myths about pot and the people who use it. For many years, I have “been in the closet” – not advertising my use, because of how uneducated people judge and condemn it (I used to be one of those people, myself). As my home state has been putting decriminalization, medical marijuana and even legalization to the vote, however, now is a time to speak out and open the minds of people who don’t know the reality of this miracle plant, that, personally, I think every human being should have access to -if they want it.

  • timbambam

    I am a 49 year old man who has been smoming pot since I was a teenager. I went to school and got a B.A. in buisness. I suffered Spinal Stenosis a few years back and had a major sugery done to my spine. I still smoke and it has helped to keep the pain meds I take at much lower levels than if I did not smoke. When people say that I must be a mess and can not think or have lost my memory I always say I can still remember my first phone number which changed in 1974. So those who dont smoke pot should not judge those of us who do.

  • Mr. Bogart

    I have smoked weed for more than half my life. I graduated from high school and then went straight into the US Army, where I served 6 years. I was expert with my M16 and M203. Was a 1st class grenader, and had recieved many awards and my group had placed 1st place in CRT’s 3 years in a row, something that hasn’t been acomplished since and in those years I did stop smoking weed because it is not allowed in the service. When I got out of the military, I had a re-inlistment code of RE1.
    I went on to get an education in the NDT field where I excelled and had smoked weed off and on to not fail any piss teasting my job required.
    I have seen too many people screw up their lives with alcohol, herion, and cocaine but have yet to see anyone, screw up their lives using weed.
    I would never support making herion, cocaine, or meth legal because those are very destructive drugs with no medical use.
    It is a fact that people that become alcoholic go thru the same withdrawls symptoms as herion addicts. Those type of drugs are physically addictive, including alcohol, but weed isn’t.
    There has already been enough studies of the effects of weed and if they would only disclose the truths about those studies, it would clearly show that marijuana should not have been classified as a schedule I drug.
    I would like to see the poll, in todays world, asking people if they would or wouldn’t make alcohol illegal and my guess is that most people would not make alcohol illegal because we have been down that road once already and since marijuana is less harmfull than alcohol and tobacco, it should be made decriminalized and legalized period.
    Myths are just that……. myths! Too many peoples lives are being and have been destroyed, from incarceration, arrests from regular users of marijuana, because it has been illegal for this long.
    I vote to decriminalize and legalize marijuana and hemp, end of story.

    • ^isaBSer

      Don’t sprout crap just because people don’t know much about how things work in the army.

    • ^isaBSer

      Don’t sprout crap just because people don’t know much about how things work in the army.

  • Klaus-bud Oracle-kaczor

    The link below goes to a Utube where I explain what Happened after Minister of Public Safety said the same thing “The liberal Party will never legalize Marijuana because it makes you stupid.” I was smoking a joint of “Trainwreck” at the time. This led to me making a formal complaint to the CRTC (File # 233039) which caught out the Federal Gov of Canada committing a hate crime using the Public airwaves to generate hatred for Marijuana growers and by implication smokers in the wake of the mass shooting of 4 RCMP officers at Mayerthorpe Alberta in Mar 2005. I single handedly without the aid of a lawyer was able to change broadcasting history via one email. Both the Ministers of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety were Lawyers and the other perp was the Commissioner of the RCMP. All three failed to realize that they were breaking the hate crimes act. This is proof that alcohol use makes one extremely stupid, imo.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAyEaWwgh54

  • kycountry

    I believe everyone who has smoked and followed the push towards legalization KNOWS the real problem.$$$$$
    Big pharma company’s can afford to lobby OUR representatives to keep it illegal. In my 61 yrs on this earth I’ve learned that in almost ever situation that involves taking dollars out of the pockets of the elite is going to be a hard row to hoe. Just follow the money. The $$$$$ is most likely in mexico, so there’s a start. I’m also sure they can influence articles in USA Today, buying million dollar ads. peace

  • Sarah Dolk

    Worse than the stigma from non smokers, in my opinion, are the people who use or have used in their life who do the wink-wink, nod and smile when you tell them you’re a mad-can user. They assume you’re a “stoner” who lives in a non-productive, yet happy daze. P. Kennedy on Bill Maher last night was the last straw for me, saying over and over that people who have the “facts” will agree that legalization is a bad thing. Oh brother…he’ll set things back a bit.

    My new mission is to educate everyone who will listen.

    • wowFAD

      Oh yes, I caught his act, too. Pat Kennedy insisted the *facts* and the *truth* about cannabis is what convinced him — an argument by fiat, if there ever was one. Patrick might’ve popped one too many Oxy before the show, because the only “fact” he was willing to throw out there was that debunked study about cannabis hindering development, lowering average IQ for teen users.

      I wish Bill had read the response article, which showed conclusively how the socio-economic status of those teens better explains the lower IQ’s. The original prop-piece deliberately neglected controlling for the SES variable because stratifying their sample by SES would have TOTALLY ELIMINATED the effect they were trying to demonstrate — that cannabis has a deleterious effect on developing young minds. Growing up in a poor household predicts IQ far more accurately than cannabis use.

      Because Pat Kennedy was a drunken pill-popper, he thinks he’s an authority on the ONE substance he wasn’t on when he plowed his car into a traffic divide in Washington DC. It’s just — laughable — that he thinks he’s smarter than cannabis users.

  • Matthew Cunningham

    To think of all the cannabis smoke at Microsoft by the like of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in their late night coding sessions.

  • Jud

    I read over that study before. IT really frustrated me how it was portrayed. They failed to take into account socioeconomic indicators, and they didn’t control for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, rape, assault, as well as the things this author listed. They say they control for personality disorders… if you go and read the actual study all they controlled for was depression, anxiety, and adhd. Some of the more severe mental disorders they ignored are frequently associated with self medication through marijuana. They also defined marijuana and alcohol use as part of a single disorder that they studied.

    • Katmuse

      Self medication is not well understood. young ppl with severe mental illness will frequently turn ta’ all sort sof “substances” & unhealthy coping behaviors ta’ ease the pain…

  • Mick & Mick

    I was a college student studying criminal law & I carried a 3.8 GPA!!!! I used marijuana every day & still do! I am 44 … My home is already paid for & Im still working & making great money!! My two law partners are the same!

  • esotericknowledge

    Well they got to make up some excuse for denying you your rights and the respect you deserve. All federal government jobs, and many businesses violate the 4th Amendment to keep marijuana users out of employment. It’s much more serious than calling you stupid: The Federal Government is trying to kill you!

  • andrew

    They are saying now that “Kraft Dinner” is just as bad.

    • Katmuse

      har har,,dat’s funny….
      erm’, and R they sayin it gits ya’ high too?

  • hey

    I’ve never met more ignorant and flat-out dumb people than the ones that boldly stigmatize cannabis on the basis that “drugs are bad”.

    Unfortunately, these people are everywhere.

  • Potheadgreg

    I’m a chemical engineer by undergrad, very sucessful business owner, earned my MBA from a top 5 school. I have a very wonderful family including two small daughters and I smoke cannibus daily. Stupid, lazy, “fried”, socially inept, emotionally damaged, bad parent….I think not. Sucessful everyday stoners have to make their presence known. Change attitudes, change lives.

    • potheadgreg

      Spelling is not a strong suit. :-)

  • Rebius

    I absolutely love to tell people, who are absolutely against cannabis, after showing them how successful I am and how they are surprised at the end when I tell them, “yeah and btw. I smoke weed for the last 10 years” :D Just love it :D

  • Bill Hicks

    Though I support your cause and think it’s noble, I find this whole article very ironic because you’re kind of a testament to why the answer to the title is yes. Evidence: you seem to believe that academic success is a measure of intelligence when really it’s just a test of who can be blindly manipulated and indoctrinated into a life of financial and intellectual slavery. If you think this kind of thoughtless submission makes you a sage prophet, you’ve obviously never done acid. There’s a profound difference in worldviews regarding the meaning of intelligence.

    And therein lies my own pet peeve: unconscious (or heavens forbid, conscious) avocation of programmed social behaviors and thought patterns that distract us from higher truths. Marijuana alone will not remove your illusions.

    I’m not gonna deny that I’m pissed drunk when I’m tripping on my feet and neither will I deny that a really good blunt will have me thinking like a well-intentioned fluffy animal. Can you regurgitate spoon-fed information in this state? Sure you can. Should it be criminalized? Of course not. Does it make you stupid? That should really be argued from a neurological standpoint. We can start by looking at the intelligence of a plant.

    Please don’t proliferate the idea that the current academic institutions in place are the authority on wisdom. Sir Ken Robinson gets the idea.

    • Katmuse

      I agree. “Academic Achievement” doesn’t necessarily equal intelligence.
      I wonder if U really can’t think when stoned, or just don’t want to? LOL

  • G

    Have to agree 100% with the article. I for one just finished school, and may have the issue with low academic scores. In students, theres more than one reason teenagers just start flunkin school. I happend to, yet at the same time just because i never really botherd with the subjects they taught us, religion, science math to name a few, i became rapidly interested in other aspects that wernt even mentioned in school.

    socialy everybody starts to assume because you smoke your going to be a dumbshit all the time. What really happens is because you try it and its not as bad as everybody says, you do it again 2,,to put up with this ‘anxiety’ that has you by the balls everytime you do something,I started smoking with mates on the weekend, turned to a daily thing after about a year , i decided i had various issues to self medicate for, issues i wouldnt say needed the help of a proffesional, but just some good thinking time. The pot helped me get through all but one of these issues, (i did have the help of a clinical phsycologist, but he never helped was always trying to weave me thru setting goals up for myself, and motivational shit that had nothing to do with the reason i was seeing him in the first place.)

  • Brad

    23 year old college graduate here who just recently got hired in the industry as compliance administrator of a mmj dispensary. Contrary to what some people think, accounting and information systems are very useful with the booming cannabis industry. Just wait until it spreads to the rest of the country… and world!!

  • Jamie Guest

    “Potheads” are not stupid…sometimes stupid people might smoke “weed” and sometimes stupid people don’t. Sometimes smart people smoke and sometimes they don’t either. I think what happens to college students has to do with the fact that for the first time in their lives they don’t have mommies and daddies prohibiting their moves so they can’t wait to go do whatever fun they can find. I know a lot of genius marijuana users.

  • Jubilee

    I’ve asked non-tokers who push this stereotype excessively, into explaining why BOTH my pothead friends managed to make Uni Valedictorian. Not to mention that one of them graduated grad school with the highest honours in this class. I’m one of the many successful college graduates out there. Other mates I know have chosen to move on to PhD! That being said NO ONE can tell me that all potheads amount to nothing, no one!

  • Michael Lopez

    man im 22 and i been working at in n out for almost 5 1/2 years. and ill tell u what, that lil green herb does wounders. i been in two car crashes. and have sleeping problems eating problems. point is marjuana does nothing but good for my body. been eating more getting sleep and i GO TO WORK 5-7 days and i have no “slow-mo” when taking my meds, instead my neroconnections have been improving ever since i started my “daily” intake. just a note.

  • Katmuse

    This is a Pet peeve of mine…Degrees do not prove much about someones “smarts”…
    I am what U may call “self-educated”, with some Community College courses. I was married & had children when I was in my early 20′s. At that time I was involved with head start, & early childhood ed., so the courses I had taken offered little value ta’ my real life. I am in chronic pain, so I am _always_ under the “influence” of Marijuana, and when I’m interested in something, I am able ta’ educate myself in a way that has relevance to my interests in REAL time…May not make sense, but I medicate daily, in rather high, no pun intended,,, doses, & I only have time & energy ta’ pursue information & knowledge that will improve my life & mental Health.. Weed is no god or devil..Its a plant that has some amazin’ propertys ta’ reduce pain, & heal, more than most medicinal plants have. But, many other plants also have these characteristics.
    My knowledge of Gardenin’ is manifest in my complete removal, (with the help of some strong dudes””) of turf grass & the installation of a “Xeric” landscapin’ in my home gardens. I live on the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, near Denver, It’s extremliy harsh here & difficult ta’ grow anything without basic knowledge & skills, so I killed many plants. It also took alot of research on: length of growin’ season, plantin dates, hail, soil buildin & ph. color, texture, design. plant selection, irrigation methods, & on and on. I specialize in Roses & water wize, Hail resistant plants. I also grow some Exotic South African Native Plants in my “yard.” My front Yard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat/ Suburban. I “feel kinda’ “smart” LOL hehehlolol
    The only impediment ta’ this project was when I had a hip-replacement..2 surgerys, & was takin’ pharmaceutical pain killers..Those WILL & did, make Me Stupid! I was hooked fer quite awhile..Not now..but it was close.
    I think many ppl that smoke weed like ta’ be laid back…dont have anything ta prove…maybe that appears ta Be stupidity.
    I don’t take things that seriously@!!!! Who really cares that much if U have a good life & hav esome fun along the way?
    BTW I cleaned up the typin’ ….I wont use auto correct & My painful hands dont know how ta’ tyoeso I can really appear ta b dumb! well…roflmao

  • Katmuse

    The Comments here R some of the most intelligent I’ve seen all wek…hehelol

  • Jamie Guest

    I live with multiple anxiety disorders that would lock me in the house if left out of control. Many of my family members take pharmaceuticals like Amitryptaline (SP?) and the Wellbutrin-Abilify cocktail the MDs hand out to any1. When i was young i did all sorts of drugs and alcohol to fit into a crowd but then i learned the crowd meant nothing and i was just too mental to be out socializing. Once i stopped everything and found Indica I started functioning again. I can not eat or sleep or go to work to build my beautiful furniture if i let my anxiety get out of control. Daily dose of natural herb makes me MORE intelligent quite frankly and i still have the ability to “feel” as a bonus.