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Reaction Paper Marijuana Use at School and Achievement-Linked Behaviors PSYCH 333 Brittany Garcia Summer 2013

In a study conducted by Dr. Kristin Finn, she attempts to explain the relationship between marijuana use in adolescents and their academic achievements. When she compared students who were non-users, moderate users, and school users; she found that those who used marijuana at all had lower grades, greater absenteeism, more school suspension, and high dropout rates. These results remained consistent regardless of gender or ethnicity. This study provides supporting evidence to several concepts that were highlighted in class. The first problem being that the majority of the teens in this study reported that they did not see the danger associated with the use of marijuana. This reflects how our societys stance on marijuana has shifted to decriminalization of the drug which gives the impression that this drug is therefore less dangerous, more socially approved, and has fewer repercussions tied to its use. These attitudes have perpetuated more false beliefs among these adolescents such that they claimed that the use of marijuana allowed them to complete their school work, focus better, and even improve the quality of the work they produced. This study as well as the information presented in class proves the opposite to be true citing deficits in attention, memory, sensory-motor performance, and general motivation. These consequences also serve as examples that represent the process of addiction and abuse--when the use of the substance begins to interfere negatively with other aspects of the users life. This then presents another problem that is presented in the Problem Behavior Theory in which one negative behavior leads to another which then can result in taking more dangerous and illicit drugs leading to criminal and risky behaviors as described by the Gateway Drug Theory.

As a result of our decriminalization of marijuana stems the issue of accessibility. In California today, we have seen how easy the process is in getting access to marijuana through medicinal marijuana shops. Students from this study acknowledged how easy it is to find a way to get marijuana as well as how commonplace it was to be offered marijuana at school. This again downplays the risks related to marijuana use by appearing more socially acceptable. It is also being used more frequently as a coping mechanism. Self medication through the use of marijuana may temporarily relieve the stresses that adolescents experience that are related to school; however, it does not get at the root cause as to why they are using in the first place. This study was interesting to me because it is a real example of how drug use today is steadily increasing in the adolescent population. It shows that as our attitudes towards the use of marijuana change, so does the attitudes of children. This then leads to circulation of inaccurate information about the drug and make it appear to be healthier or more acceptable when compared to other drugs. I think that this study has made it obvious that one of the largest and most fundamental reasons why we have seen an increase in the number of adolescents that use marijuana is that there is a perception of marijuana as not having any detrimental health effects. This can largely be due to the fact that on the surface, marijuana use is not as stigmatized as other major drugs that are licit that have serious and frequently voiced health concerns such as those related to tobacco and alcohol use. There seems to be a lack of proper education in the risks and dangers associated not with just marijuana but all drugs in general. I think that there needs to be classes at every school to give accurate information about drugs. This in turn would probably serve as solid foundation in beginning to reduce the prevalence of drug use among adolescents.

Bibliography Finn, K. V. (2012). Marijuana Use at School and Achievement-Linked Behaviors. High School Journal, 95(3), 3-13.