A high school student today has the same level of anxiety as that of an average 1950s psychiatric patient, says Robert Leahy, director of the American Institute of Cognitive Therapy.

Several factors are contributing to this, including the pressure of performing well in tests and the fear of failure.

Because of this, students are resorting to unusual habits to cope. They’re more likely to try untested ways to succeed in school, like taking marijuana to study better.

But is this method truly effective?

Does Marijuana Help with Studying?

Experts and marijuana users have differing answers. Some users say that it helps them with generating new ideas and increase their focus in one task; others, however, can’t say the same.

One Quora user, who was diagnosed with ADHD after college, shared how smoking weed had helped her sit still and focus on studying in college.

Another user, a biochemistry major, also shared how it helped him cope with his diagnosed PTSD and pain from an old injury. While it didn’t directly aid him in studying, it helped him managed conditions that hindered him from focusing on his studies.

On the other hand, experts emphasize the long-term effects of marijuana on the brain, how it impairs focus and permanently damages the short-term memory.

Effects of Marijuana to the Brain

Marijuana users claim to have increased creativity, productivity, and relaxation after using the drug. How true is this?

In a study published in the Consciousness and Cognition journal, researchers tested the creativity of participants.

They found that sober cannabis users had increased creativity, as compared with the nonusers.

But the researchers found this can be attributed more to a higher levels of openness to experience, a facet of the Big 5 model of personality, they made the participants take during the study. 

Another study published at the Creativity Research Journal looked into the effects of marijuana use on creativity.

Researchers observed regular users and novice users and evaluated their levels of creativity. The results of the study showed that marijuana use decreased creativity in regular users and showed no positive change in novice users.

However, other recent studies—a Dutch study in 2015 and a British study in 2012―report that other factors, such as the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) dose and the user’s personality, play a part in the relationship between marijuana use and creativity.

Low dose (5.5 mg of 19 percent THC) showed better results in increasing regular users’ divergent thinking, which includes traits like fluency, flexibility, and originality.

In a London study, researchers asked regular users to smoke marijuana at home and measured their levels of creativity through a cognitive-thinking assessment.

Their findings showed that marijuana use had greater effect on the low-creativity group than on the high-creativity group.

The findings in many studies are mixed, but most of them report factors that can interfere with boosting creativity in marijuana users, notably, the dose and regularity of use.

Stress and anxiety are not the best companions when preparing for a test and taking one. If marijuana can’t help with creativity and productivity, does it have any effect in relaxing before exams?

The findings of several studies are mixed. A study found that low doses of THC helped participant deal with anxiety-causing situations while high doses worsened their stress and anxiety.

In another study from Washington State University, researchers subjected marijuana user and nonusers to a laboratory test and measured how stressed they were by assessing their cortisol levels and asking them to rate their own stress.

The study’s findings reported that the chronic marijuana users had lower levels of stress than nonusers had despite abstaining from marijuana on the day of testing.

Final Thoughts

In the wake of legalizing nonmedical marijuana in many states, it will be harder for authorities to keep track of marijuana usage in young people below the legal age. That’s why authorities must adapt their strategies to properly regulate usage among the youth. As of the moment, students may fear that surprise drug tests will interfere with their peace of mind, so they should have access to detox kits.

If you’re a student preparing for a test, consider first how marijuana may affect you before you imbibe. Make sure that you’re ultra clean and clear from substances that may impair your performance before test season.

The field of cannabis studies is still fairly young, so more research needs to be done in order to fully explore the potential and possibilities of using marijuana to study better.