Pot-smoking teens less likely to finish high school

Frequent teenage cannabis use is linked with less educational achievement and other problems later in life, according to New Zealand and Australian research.

File:Marijuana.jpgIndividuals who are daily users of cannabis before age 17 are less likely to complete high school or obtain a degree compared with those who have never used the drug, new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal shows.

The study also indicates that, compared to people who never used cannabis in their youth, daily users of cannabis during adolescence are seven times more likely to attempt suicide, have an 18 times greater chance of cannabis dependence, and are eight times as likely to use other illicit drugs by age 30.

The research combined data from the long running University of Otago Christchurch Health and Development Study with two similar studies in Australia, covering more than 3700 participants enrolled in ‘cohort’ studies which followed the same individuals for over thirty years.

Co-author Prof David Fergusson from the University of Otago, Christchurch, said in a media release that these associations are consistent across studies, and cannot be explained by differences in the family background or childhood experience of cannabis users and non-users.

According to the study’s lead author, Dr Edmund Silins, “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.”

New Zealand and Australia have some of the the highest rates of cannabis consumption in the OECD and some studies estimate that by the age of 21, about 80 per cent of young New Zealanders will have used cannabis on at least one occasion.

The study has been widely covered by New Zealand and global media:

3 News: Legalising cannabis risky for teens – study
TVNZ: Concerns raised for dope-smoking teens
The Press: Evidence mounts against cannabis
New Zealand Herald: Pot smokers more than double risk of dropping out of school
NewstalkZB: Teen pot smoking linked to underachievement
MSN NZ: Poor outcomes linked to teen cannabis use
Radio New Zealand: Teen dope users less likely to qualify
Business Insider Australia: Teens Who Smoke Weed Daily Are More Likely To Drop Out Of High School
The West Australian: Teen cannabis use alert
SBS: Teen cannabis use linked to depression, suicide: report
CBC News: Marijuana use by teens linked with problems in young adulthood
The Guardian: Teenagers who use cannabis every day 60% less likely to finish school
The Irish Times: Teen cannabis users less likely to finish school, get a degree
Forbes: How Much Pot Does It Take To Turn A Teenager Into A Suicidal Dropout?
Newsweek: Weed-Smoking Teens 60 Percent Less Likely to Finish High School, Study Says
CNN: Frequent teen marijuana use linked to issues later in life
Yahoo News: Teens who smoke pot daily less likely to finish high school
Washington Post: Study: Teens who smoke weed daily are 60% less likely to complete high school than those who never use