Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dumbed Down by Weed

Here are some fun facts for those who have been beating the drums for marijuana legalization. I am thinking especially of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker who has just proposed legalizing weed nationwide. Apparently, Booker thinks that if we have fewer laws there will be fewer crimes. It isn’t illogical, but still it’s a bad idea.

Recent research suggests that the academic performance of students who have more access to weed suffers. Who imagined that weed would make students dumb… especially when it comes to mathematics. Now that America is lagging the world in student academic performance, and now that America has fewer and fewer students studying engineering, what we really need is more… weed. 

In a better world our senators would be militating for better academic performance. Alas, nowadays they are protesting against it. They want to dumb down an already academically challenged nation.

It was all reported in Vox:

According to a study recently published in The Review of Economic Studies, access to legal marijuana may significantly reduce academic performance.

The study took advantage of a natural experiment in the Dutch city of Maastricht. In 2011, the city sought to pull back some of the marijuana tourism going to its coffee shops, where marijuana sales are legally tolerated. So through the local association of cannabis shop owners, it banned some foreigners of certain nationalities from buying pot at these venues.

This let researchers Olivier Marie and Ulf Zölitz, in the cleverly titled “‘High’ Achievers? Cannabis Access and Academic Performance,” compare the academic outcomes of Maastricht University students with varying levels of access to legal pot.

What they found: The students who weren’t allowed to legally access marijuana saw their grades significantly improve, especially in classes that require numerical and mathematical skills.

That suggests that a significant consequence of marijuana legalization could be worse academic performance — and that could of course trickle out to any other outcomes or work that generally require using your brain. That doesn’t mean that legalizing pot is necessarily a bad idea, but it is something advocates of the policy now have to think about and account for as they move forward.

Note the last paragraph. Your ability to do a job that requires you to use your brain, especially in mathematics, will be compromised by too much weed. Does that sound like an argument for legalization?

Here’s some more information:

“On average, students performed 10.9% of a standard deviation better and were 5.4% more likely to pass courses when they were banned from entering cannabis shops,” the researchers concluded, although there were no statistically significant changes in dropout probability. The effect is stronger for women and low-performance students. They also found bigger effects on courses that require numerical and math skills — backing up previous research that has found marijuana consumption most negatively impacts quantitative thinking.

This is not the first time that marijuana has been shown to be harmful:

A review of the research published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine earlier this year found that marijuana seems to pose a significant risk for respiratory problems if smoked, schizophrenia and psychosis, car crashes, lagging social achievement in life, and perhaps pregnancy-related problems.

Of course, Vox, being a voice of the left, does not believe that marijuana should be illegal. After all, other legal substances comport risk also. Whether they make you dumb is another story.

I allow Vox the final word, even though it sounds like it was written by someone who was doped out on weed:

So it seems likely, based on the Maastricht study, that marijuana legalization really does lead to negative outcomes on academic performance. But maybe that’s okay.

Then again, maybe it’s not okay.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

It is ironic that we have had this wild jihad against tobacco use, but pot smoking is going mainstream.

JK said...

The author too quickly jumps to using weed causes poor academic, especially math, results. It could be a host of things not even mentioned. Such as if the students could not enter weeds shops then maybe they spent that time studying instead. That alone could account for the 5-10% difference in grade results. NOTE: I am against drugs, I don't use them at all.

I'll tell you the real solution to the drug problem. We brainwash, as a positive, the young kids when they enter kindergarten and all the way through that drugs are bad, really bad. This worked to virtually stop kids from smoking here in Wisconsin.

And, how is the drug war going by the way? So there are no drugs in the USA? There is no drug use in the USA? After how many hundreds of billions of dollars spent let alone all the lost time of all the people, such as police, prosecutors, judges, etc., spent fighting the drug war? After trying for 30+ years? Time to try Portugal's method, Colorado's method. When they legalized drugs, each in their respective way, drug use did not increase. It appeared usage increase some but not really when you account for people outside those states who visited due to the legalization. Pointing out when you see a big drug bust by a Sheriff or the feds on TV/newspaper it only fuels the drug trade. As those busts keep demand and thus prices higher fueling the drug lords. It also can demolish the competition allowing entry of new market suppliers. Try legalizing all drugs - you'll be surprised that the usage will drop along with total crime rates. No one can tell me, or show me, that the "drug war" is working.

RKV said...

Soma - see Brave New World. Opiate of the masses to keep them stupid and distracted. Which is exactly why narcotics should be legal. The consequences will be reduced welfare rolls as the stupid take themselves out of the gene pool.

trigger warning said...

No criticism of the study authors, but there are a number of confounding factors in the sample, and the effects are small. Interesting, but not anywhere near definitive.

Ares Olympus said...

I don't see how this is different than legal alcohol. And tobacco smoking is legal and still popular however much we know its bad for us. I am glad smoking is effectively banned in nearly all indoor public settings short of Indian casinos.

At minimum I support decriminalization, and if we regulate sales, we can tax that, and money laundering is greatly reduced as well, so there'd be more legal income tax. And unlike many other drugs, you can grow your own plants, so at least some potheads have to do some actual work before they can smoke it.

And as JK suggests, the war on drugs hasn't clearly reduced usage, while it has helped expanded our nonviolent prison population greatly.

No one should doubt there are negative effects to any drug, and it makes sense that feeling some control over our moods can reduce the effectiveness of our natural chemical motivational systems that kept our ancestors alive for 100,000 years.

Increased passivity is surely a likely downside, but in general, passive people are not overly dangerous or harmful to others, although they are probably easier to abuse or exploit.

Anonymous said...

Ares Olympus informs us all: drugs have side effects.

Shaun F said...

Maybe I read this incorrectly but the study's segment from Maastricht University was described here:

"So through the local association of cannabis shop owners, it banned some foreigners of certain nationalities from buying pot at these venues." -

That of course begs the question who are the Dutch singling out?