Teens Who Use Pot May Not Finish School

By Sherry Baker  @SherryNewsViews
September 05, 2023
Teens Who Use Pot May Not Finish School

Regular young pot smokers may be less likely to complete high school or obtain a college or university degree than peers who never smoke marijuana.

Could teenagers smoke marijuana be risking their futures? One study raises that troublesome possibility — especially for those who indulge in the drug daily before they are 17.

Australian and New Zealand researchers analyzed data on 3,765 young people who started using cannabis (the scientific name for marijuana) at an early age to see how the research subjects fared in several areas of life by the time they were 30. The results showed regular pot smokers were 60 percent less likely to have completed high school or obtained a college or university degree than peers who had never used the drug.

What’s more, those who used marijuana daily during their teen years were almost 20 times more likely to have developed a dependence on cannabis and were eight times more likely to have used other illegal drugs as they grew older.

To top off the bad news, young people who started using marijuana every day at a young age were seven times more likely to have attempted suicide than those the same age who had never used the drug.


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The researchers looked at factors besides marijuana (including age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, use of other drugs, and mental illness) to see if they could find other explanations for their findings. But only daily use of marijuana was consistently linked to the negative outcomes in the young people studied. In addition, the research showed that the more marijuana young people used the worse the impact the drug had on their lives.

"Our results provide strong evidence that the prevention or delay of cannabis use is likely to have broad health and social benefits. Efforts to reform cannabis legislation should be carefully assessed to ensure they reduce adolescent cannabis use and prevent potentially adverse effects on adolescent development,” said research team leader Edmund Silins of the University of New South Wales National Drug and Alcohol Research Center.

Another study uncovered a problem tied to teen marijuana use that could influence their ability to succeed, excessive daytime sleepiness that can be mistaken for narcolepsy, a disorder characterized by daytime lapses into sleep. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that 43 percent of youngsters with symptoms of narcolepsy tested positive for marijuana when screened for the drug.  

"We were most surprised by the fact that patients referred for evaluation for excessive daytime sleepiness who tested positive for marijuana were almost twice as likely to meet the objective criteria for narcolepsy," said principal investigator Samuel Dzodzomenyo, MD, a sleep medicine specialist in Ohio.  

With more states passing laws to legalize the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana, Dzodzomenyo and his colleagues emphasized that doctors need to be aware that marijuana usage can cause symptoms leading to a misdiagnosis of narcolepsy. In fact, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has suggested that drug screening may be indicated for young people tested at sleep centers to make sure that marijuana isn’t inducing excessive sleepiness.

Nearly 40 percent of high school students report using marijuana at some point in their lives.


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September 05, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA