The University of Ontario released a study exploring the patterns of use and characteristics of the use and co-use of tobacco and marijuana in adolescents. In addition, the study observed trends of use within gender and academic performance contexts.
According to the study published in the Journal of School Health, cannabis-smoking students outperformed their tobacco-smoking counterparts in school.
Researchers hypothesized a change in social stigma is to account for the higher performing cannabis users.
“Now there is a distinction between marijuana use and co-use with other substances, and it’s an indication of the changing social norms.” The lead study author Michael Chaiton told CTV News. “So it’s not an absolute that they do better; it’s that social norms have changed and the population of people who use marijuana are more like the general population.”
When the study began in 1980 there were statistically more tobacco smokers than marijuana smokers. In later years, marijuana use shot up, while tobacco use went down. The researchers note this is in part due to the effectiveness of anti-tobacco campaigns and that marijuana is more socially acceptable today.
The study analyzed use of 38,331 students in grades 7, 9, and 11 over thirty years from 1981 to 2011. Still the researchers press that neither marijuana nor tobacco are behind their observed numbers.
“The population of youth [tobacco] smokers right now is one that is a fairly marginalized population, quite a vulnerable population, so they are at high rates of cannabis use but also of other drugs and other behaviours,” Chaiton told CTV. “So the change in trends is that this is a social phenomenon. This is not that tobacco is causing this, it is something that has changed socially in the role of tobacco in society.”
Chaiton also claims tobacco and marijuana are “similar drugs in many different ways” and “people dramatically underestimate the risks associated with cannabis use, particularly among youth.”
Other studies have concluded that marijuana is not linked with long-term cognitive impairment.
Did you use cannabis as a teenager? How did it affect your performance in school? Tell us in the comments below!