The relationship between marijuana initiation and dropping out of high school

The prevalence of marijuana use among young people has risen rapidly in recent years, causing concern over the potential impact on academic performance of such use. While recent studies have examined the effect of alcohol use on educational attainment, they have largely ignored the potential negative effects of other substances, such as marijuana. This paper examines whether the relationship between the initiation of marijuana use and the decision to drop out of high school varies with the age of dropout or with multiple substance use. Data are from a longitudinal survey of 1392 adolescents aged 16-18 years. The results suggest that marijuana initiation is positively related to dropping out of high school. Although the magnitude and significance of this relationship varies with age of dropout and with other substances used, it is concluded that the effect of marijuana in on the probability of subsequent high school dropout is relatively stable, with marijuana users odds of dropping out being about 2.3 times that of non-users. Implications of these conclusions are considered for both policy makers and researchers.
Source: Author Bray, Zarkin et al Research Triangle Institute NC USA July 1999

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