Let’s talk about stereotypes for a second.
When you think of the stereotypical stoner, what comes to mind? Dreadlocked men and Rasta flags? Deadbeat hippies listening to The Grateful Dead in an old Volkswagen van? For many, it’s the burnout—the degenerate failure with no concern for his environment or responsibilities—a lost soul corrupted by the Devil’s Lettuce.
You know who they are. They’re the ones who parents refer to when educating kids on the dangers of drugs. They’re the ones that our politicians fear and why weed is illegal. They’re the ones that employers assume you are after seeing a picture of your new bong on Instagram.
They represent the negative stereotypes of a stoner, scare away potential smokers, and give current stoners a bad name. While a minority, they seem to define the traditional myth that weed leads to bad grades and no career.
As weed seems to enhance the pros and cons of different personality types, it is more likely your personality will affect your grades more than the weed does.
Yes, weed has depressant effects. It can make you less alert, less interested, and less motivated. It can affect intellect and short-term memory—all important traits as a student, yet not all stoners are burnouts. Some stoners were straight-A students who flew too close to the sun and whose academic performance suffered as a result. For every one of those though there are those who smokes 10 times a day and still gets better grades than most of their peers.
So my question is this: Would a student who truly cared about school let their grades fall? There are plenty of external motivators to work hard in school, mainly pressure from parents and culture. So is it possible then, that upon discovering something that they truly enjoy (weed), these students lost concern for things they never really cared about (school)?
My experience suggests that the answer is yes.
Smart students integrate pot into their studying routine by knowing how it effects them and respecting their limits. Personally, if I’m doing homework, writing a paper (like this one), or even taking notes in class, I consider weed a studying aid, because it allows me to be more creative and have more tolerance for mind-numbing tasks. I don’t like smoking when I have to study for an exam, however, because it makes distractions too tempting. On the other hand, I have friends who insist on smoking before, during, and after preparing for an exam, because it calms them down and allows them to focus. Unlike me, they find it easy to tune out distractions and zone in on what’s in front of them. Weed effects everyone differently, so it’s the student’s responsibility to understand themselves and their limitations.
The type of student who chooses to smoke also makes a difference. Because of the social stigma against pot and the perception that it will decrease your grades, many smart students choose not to smoke. My freshman year of high school, I laughed at friends who told me that weed wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I thought they were addicts in denial whose cognitive dissonance prevented them from seeing weed’s “devastating” effects. Five years later, I laugh at myself for being so ignorant. My biggest fear when I started smoking was that my grades would fall, and that’s why they never did.
For those who don’t know: weed isn’t like heroin or nicotine. You cannot get physically addicted to it. Your body never develops a dependence on it and all (if any) withdrawal symptoms are psychological. Weed addiction is a behavioral addiction. It’s nothing more than a habit. Here’s the thing about habits, though: they can be controlled with discipline. Some stoners don’t start smoking until they complete their daily schoolwork, others only smoke first thing in morning and right before they go to bed, and some smoke throughout the day whenever they need a little high. Once again, it goes back to the idea that weed effects everyone differently.
The bottom line is this: not all stoners are burnouts, and not all stoners are geniuses. So if you’re asking if it’s possible to smoke weed and get good grades, the answer is yes, but there’s no universal approach to doing so. It’s up to you to identify how weed affects you and adjust your studying habits accordingly. Be honest with yourself. If you truly care about school and understand how to smoke responsibly, you’ll be able to blaze and get As.