Is Marijuana Affecting My Teenager’s Education?


Table of Contents

Marijuana Effects and Signs of Use

Signs of Use in Teens

Typical signs that your teenager is smoking weed can be hidden in plain sight. Whether your teenager is good at hiding physical symptoms, or you can tell by looking at them, other indications aside from physical appearance indicate marijuana use.

For example, when smoking marijuana from a pipe or a bong device, a black resin accumulates inside the bowl or chamber. Resin buildup can clog the airflow, requiring a small pinprick item to unclog the blockage.

If you find thin objects such as bobby pins, sewing needles, or small sticks with a blackened cake-like resin on the tip, your child is likely smoking weed.

Additionally, the resin has an odor that is unlike marijuana itself. Resin smells charred and musky, whereas marijuana can have various smells, given the vast array of strains available.

Physical Marijuana Effects

After teenagers smoke, they often believe they can easily convince others that they are not high. However, contrary to their belief, there are prominent signs that your teenager has recently smoked weed.

Physical signs that your teenager is high:

  • Clothes will smell “skunky” and musky.
  • Eyes will likely be red or bloodshot (be aware that eye drops can quickly remedy this sign.)
  • Lethargic behavior includes a vacant expression or delayed responses.
  • Absent-mindedness such as an inability to locate items directly in front of them.
  • Difficulty retaining information, even if your teen received the information recently.
  • Unbalanced equilibrium such as dizziness or trouble walking straight.
  • Increased appetite, more commonly referred to as “having the munchies.”
  • Your teen appears unmotivated and tired.

These are signs that your teenager is currently high, but these effects can also become prolonged after long-term use. For instance, if your teenager is smoking weed daily, you will find bloodshot eyes more often and notice lethargic behavior or musky-smelling clothes.


Understanding Adolescent Brain Development

Hormonal Changes

Brain development is at a crucial stage of growth throughout the teenage years. Behavioral patterns thought processes and emotional progression are established in this period.

Due to the impressionable nature of a developing adolescent brain, marijuana use during this time can have a significant impact on future behavioral, social, and educational development.

According to Jiska Peper and Ronald Dahl from the Department of Psychology at Leiden University and the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, hormonal changes in children can occur before their teenage years. According to their entry in medical journals, hormonal changes impact cognitive and social-cognitive function among children. Additionally, medical journal entries illustrate the effects of puberty on cognitive processes:

This study illustrates a critical period of growth and development. Still, it reiterates the importance of allowing natural processes to occur without adding a substance that causes delays in mental processes.

Social-emotional development is crucial for healthy emotional processing. Teenagers who smoke weed during this development period can struggle with independence in personal growth. The calming effect of marijuana can serve as a reward system that establishes behavioral traits.

Risk and Reward Calculator

According to Howard Sercombe at the University of Strathclyde, adolescent development is adaptive and influenced by environmental factors. It is no surprise to say that teenagers are risk-takers, but why?

Studies indicate that the risk-reward calculator in teenagers is driven by the temporal lobe, which during the growth period is continuously misaligned until reaching adulthood.

This temporary condition of the brain during the teenage years is not to say anything wrong with a child’s temporal lobe, merely an indication that it is still developing.

Temporal lobe alignment finalizes in adulthood, so adults find it easier to conclude if a reward is “not worth the risk.”

Teenagers have difficulty calculating which reward is or is not worth the risk. This vulnerability leads high school students to believe that the reward of being high is worth the risk of future developmental delays.

Marijuana’s effect on learning causes social-cognitive processes to slow or negatively impact progression by reinforcing unhealthy risk-reward behavioral patterns.

Marijuana Use in the High School Years

Smoking weed and studying are not complementary to each other. Smoking marijuana and studying hinder the ability to retain information, impacting a child’s learning ability.

Smoking marijuana and retaining information prove to counteract each other, increasing the impact of marijuana on school performance.

Smoking weed detaches the smoker from reality, losing a sense of time management and focus.

Marijuana’s effect on learning redirects focuses on simple-structure ideas, such as video games or television.

Children need quiet, focused spaces to study and complete their assignments. Teenagers smoking weed and studying often have difficulty comprehending, engaging, and being proactive.

Moreover, smoking marijuana and retaining information are also hindered by the lack of energy. Students are more likely to take naps and ignore studying altogether when smoking marijuana and studying.

Decreased Motivation in Education

Teenagers who smoke weed show a loss of overall motivation.

Chronic marijuana use can have lasting effects that extend beyond the period in which they are high.

Long-term effects of daily smoking linger and manifest as a general lack of energy, focus, and an overall disinterest in other activities.

For example, a teenager who does not smoke marijuana often can still be inspired to join clubs, attend school functions, and participate in high school activities.

In comparison, teenagers who smoke daily are often disinterested in such activities.

Smoking marijuana daily can slowly detach teenagers from friends, family members, and non-marijuana-related functions.

After a period of chronic marijuana use, teenagers often want to smoke weed before performing any activity, including parts they used to enjoy.

Furthermore, daily smoking can cause anxiety in some teenagers. Experiencing anxiety in a school setting can reinforce the desire to skip school or not participate in class.

Smoking marijuana and learning, both academically and socially, hinder each other, identifying the impact of marijuana on performance in school.

Marijuana Effects on Education

Increased Likelihood to Skip School

According to a study conducted by the University of Waterloo, students who smoke weed at a minimum of once a month were four times more likely to skip school, two-to-four times less likely to finish their homework or get good grades, and half as likely to get good grades as before they started smoking weed.

Karen Patte, the lead author of the study, expands on the research in her statement,

Professor Scott Leatherdale at the School of Public Health and Health Systems expresses his concerns about marijuana use and the transition from adolescence into adulthood:

The Impact of Marijuana on School Performance

The impact of marijuana on performance in school can cause a heavy toll on graduating by potentially delaying the teenager’s ability to learn school material, reading comprehension, and build healthy study habits.

Throughout a child’s school years, smoking marijuana can be detrimental to their cognitive development, social interactions, and learning or retaining information.

School performance can suffer from chronic marijuana use, leading to potentially low grades, inconclusive educational evaluations, and performance measurement tests.

Smoking weed impairs a child’s ability to focus, which can have a lasting effect on their education.

If you are worried that your child or teenager is smoking marijuana, you can reach out to your child’s educators to inquire about their class performance.

You can ask questions about your child’s demeanor, class behavior, academic progression, and if their teacher has noticed any odd or abnormal behaviors.

Additionally, if your child has suddenly changed friend groups, your child’s teachers might highlight any social differences that may have occurred.

What to Do if Your Teen is Using Marijuana

The teenage years are tough. Children go through an abundance of hormonal changes, mental developments, and social-emotional cognizance.

Teenagers are often moody, sleepy and experience diet and social changes. Marijuana has medicinal properties, resulting in a new age acceptance of marijuana as a medical field treatment.

However, due to adolescents’ vulnerable and growing nature, smoking marijuana can cause delays or deficiencies in children’s ability to focus, learn, socialize, and interpret information.

Marijuana use affects sleep patterns, dietary changes, and cognitive function and should not be used by school-age children.

Substance Use Disorder can happen to anyone, at any age. However, if your child is smoking marijuana, that does not immediately indicate that they have a Substance Use Disorder or an addiction.

Teenagers are impressionable and deserve the chance to grow and mature naturally.

Marijuana’s effect on learning is a lack of energy, diet changes, difficulty focusing, and difficulty completing educational tasks.

Teenagers often perform poorly in school due to marijuana use during crucial brain developmental stages.

If your child is suffering from any substance use disorder, entering your child into treatment can detox and provide therapy to identify the underlying issue.


[1] Marijuana Physical Symptoms
[2] Teen Hormonal Changes
[3] Teens and Risk-Taking Behavior
[4] Marijuana’s Effect on Education Outcomes 

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