Does cannabis help boost children’s academic performance in school?
There are a lot of debates especially in other countries in the world when it comes to cannabis usage. The general perception is that cannabis is dangerous to health.
Although some American States legalized cannabis, some people remain skeptical about its benefits. Research is limited and yielded different contrasting results.
Because of this uncertainty, people often think that herb is harmful to health.
However, new studies have found promising results. For example, James Williams and Gareth Hagger-Johnson had investigated the possible impact of cannabis use on children.
The researchers selected more than 600 children in England to participate in the study. The children were divided into two categories; the low and high academic achievers based on their record on three science subjects (English, Math, and Science).
Cannabis and academic performance
The result of this study was recently published in British Medical Journal (2017). The researchers reported an astonishing finding. The study suggests that cannabis and other drugs are related to children’s academic performance.
But what makes it unbelievable is the fact that academically successful children were more likely to drink alcohol and smoke cannabis than low academic achievers. Furthermore, the same correlational movement continues during adolescence.
Meaning, academically successful children tend to smoke cannabis than low academic achiever when they reach adolescence.
The result is clearly contrasting to the common perception. This finding is both interesting and intriguing. Nonetheless, so far, it remains hard to draw conclusions.
However, given this scientific evidence, can we assume that this herb is safe and beneficial to academic performance?
The greatest weakness of the study is its very nature. Correlational studies are not capable of reporting causal evidence. Thus, the result may have several explanations that do not directly tie cannabis use and academic improvement on children.
For example, Simon Oxenham, in his article on British Psychological Society suggests what I think one of the most plausible explanations of the previous study. Here’s his interpretation of the result.
One possible explanation is that intelligent children have an increased desire for novelty and stimulation. Intelligence has long been known to correlate with openness to new experiences, it could well be that the same forces that motivate intelligent people to learn about their environment also motivate them to use drugs. But the fact that the academic ability/ drug-taking relationship in the new BMJ Open study was strongest for persistent use of alcohol and cannabis would suggest that this is not simply down to intelligent children having a tendency towards a short period of “experimentation”.
More studies in the future may be necessary to understand this mysterious plant even deeper.
What do you think? Share your thoughts below.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.