Cannabis for college students

GVL Editorial

GVL Editorial

These days, marijuana is pretty popular recreationally. Chances are either you smoke it regularly, you’ve tried it before or you know someone who has. Election time is approaching quickly and Michigan residents will soon have a chance to vote on Proposal One which aims to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. 

Though the use of marijuana is often associated with poor grades and general laziness, it’s worth it to consider which aspects of cannabis use can actually help students with their academic performance as well as potentially improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. 

Let’s look at the data. A 2016 study conducted by University of Michigan shows that 39 percent of full-time college students aged 19 to 22 indicated that they used marijuana at least once in the prior 12 months, and 22 percent indicated that they used at least once in the prior 30 days. This is the highest usage rate among college students since 1987 and it hasn’t changed much in the last couple years. If we play with the numbers and assume that 39 percent of Grand Valley’s student body uses cannabis regularly, that would be (roughly) 10,000 students. That’s quite a crowd. 

Let’s consider some other numbers: a 2017 study by the American Psychological Association indicates that 41 percent of students struggle with anxiety while 34 percent deal with depression. This also averages out to roughly 10,000 GVSU students whose academic performance is potentially impacted by their mental health conditions. Research is now showing that weed could be a useful aid in working past depression and anxiety, especially in a world when many students turn to Adderall and other drugs in an attempt to improve academically. 

The high a person receives from using marijuana is entirely different than the effects of alcohol. Users should certainly avoid driving while high, but as for general decision making, communication and cognitive function, weed does not impair individuals nearly as much as alcohol and prescription drugs can. 

For students who struggle with stress and sleeping well, cannabis is definitely a worthwhile solution. Marijuana generally reduces anxiety, helps users de-stress and relax enough to sleep through the night and wake up refreshed. You don’t have to smoke to get the effects of weed, either. Cannabis can be baked into foods and eaten, taken as a supplement like a vitamin or vaped like an e-cigarette. 

While it’s true that irresponsible cannabis consumption could have negative impacts on a student’s life, the same is true for alcohol, tobacco and prescriptions drugs, all of which are legal for adults to use. Cannabis is not necessarily harmless, but it’s arguably less harmful than other substances that are legal to consume. Just like anything else, moderation is key. There’s no reason why students can’t use weed and also keep a good GPA, be productive in their work environments and maintain healthy relationships with their friends and family.