Education Corner

Marijuana use Negatively Impacts Teen Learning And Academic Success, Experts Say
White House Drug Policy Office and Leaders in Education and Health Urge Parents to Protect Their Teens’ Futures
Washington, DC--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)--October 8, 2004--With over one million high school juniors and seniors preparing to take college entrance exams this fall, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) today announced a new outreach effort focusing on marijuana’s negative impact on teen learning and academic success. The "Marijuana and Learning" effort features a new “Open Letter to Parents” that will appear next week in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and U.S. News and World Report. The letter will also be available for viewing online at http://www.TheAntiDrug.com and http://www.MediaCampaign.org.
The “Open Letter to Parents” is signed by leaders in the fields of education, health, and youth drug prevention including the Center for College Health and Safety, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association of Asian and Pacific-American Education, United Negro College Fund, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American School Counselor Association, National Student Assistance Association, and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
“Marijuana use is especially problematic during peak learning years,” said John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy. "Parents have a major role to play in helping their children achieve good grades and a bright future—preventing drug use is a part of that mission. Research tells us that parents’ attitudes about marijuana influence their child’s decisions about illicit drug use. It is imperative for every parent to regularly send the message that marijuana use is dangerous and unacceptable in their family."
The latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that almost 4 million youth aged 12 to 17 (16 percent) had used marijuana at least once in the past year. Further, almost 14 percent of youth who bought marijuana did so on school property.
"Young people who begin marijuana use at an early age when the brain is still developing may be vulnerable to problems with memory, attention span, and learning," said Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Smoking marijuana can cause some changes in the brain that are like those caused by cocaine, heroin, and alcohol."
"The use of alcohol and drugs by students clearly impacts academic performance and eventually robs America of thousands of our most vital citizens—our youth—who do not meet their fullest potential,” said Rod Paige, Secretary of Education. “If we are to safeguard not only the fabric of our society but also ultimately our economic security, we need every student performing to his or her fullest. We need to turn our attention to this important issue to ensure that students turn away from underage drinking and marijuana use."
The “Marijuana and Learning” outreach effort is part of a larger marijuana education initiative launched by ONDCP in 2002 to dispel myths and misconceptions about the drug among teens and their parents.
"Teens might try marijuana for a number of reasons, ranging from peer pressure, school or family-related stress to depression and self-esteem issues,” said Carden Johnston, M.D., President, American Academy of Pediatrics. “Signs that a teenager may be using drugs include changes in mood, attitude, sleeping habits, suspicious friends, declining grades, truancy, and temper outbursts. Keeping communication channels open with teenagers will help parents distinguish abnormal from normal adolescent behavior."
“Research shows that students with an average grade of ‘D’ or below are more than four times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year as teens who reported an average grade of ‘A.’ Parents and teens need to understand that marijuana use can negatively affect a teen’s academic success,” said Richard Wong, Executive Director of the American School Counselor Association.
For more information about marijuana’s negative impact on teen learning and other ONDCP drug prevention efforts, please visit http://www.TheAntiDrug.com, http://www.MediaCampaign.org.
Since 1998, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents, teens, and communities to reduce and prevent teen drug use.
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