Marijuana, popularly known as ‘weed’, ‘gbana’, Indian hemp or Cannabis Sativa, is frequently abused by undergraduates in tertiary institutions, and like most abused substances, it affects them, impacting negatively on their academic performances. A 300Level student, Ehiogu Michael, studying Economics, said: “Smoking for me has a bad side effect, but it’s very difficult for me to stop it. This is because I’m addicted to it. I started smoking after I gained admission into the university. I was influenced by friends. I don’t read because even if I do, I wouldn’t remember what I had read.
When I smoke, everything in my head disappears. I don’t go to classes at all and I only go when tests or examinations start. Sometimes, I wouldn’t know what to write in the examination hall, which led to carryovers for me.” Michael explained that every time he wants to smoke, he would mix cannabis into his food. He had been praying to God to help him to stop smoking, but it had been difficult. A 200Level student of the Oduduwa University, who wishes to be addressed simply as ‘Dapo’, said: “When I smoke weed, it affects me academically and there are some other parts that smoking also affects.
Whenever I smoke, it gets me high and when I get high, it causes damage to my body and I know it.” Dapo also said: “I’m so addicted to smoking to the extent that I can’t do without it. I can’t go a day without smoking it and I can’t do anything, not even eat, until I have smoked. I take it morning and night just to be all right. The effect smoking weed has on me is that it affects my academics. I lose interest in education, and I have had failures. I don’t even know how to go about that yet. It’s easier to start smoking weed, than to stop it. I feel secure in my own world because once I’m high; I would feel like I’m in another world.
I do things I couldn’t do.” Research has shown that marijuana’s negatively affects attention, memory, and learning, and it can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wears off, depending on the person’s history with the drug. Consequently, someone who smokes marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level, most times or all the time.
Evidence suggests that students who smoke marijuana have poorer educational outcomes than their non-smoking peers. For example, a review of 48 relevant studies found marijuana use to be associated with reduced educational attainment chances of graduating. According to Akin Gabriel, a clinical psychologist: “Marijuana is a psychoactive drug, and when taken, it can affect a person’s feelings.
Any drug or chemical, capable of achieving that, is referred to as a psychoactive substance. Other drugs and substances are kolanut, bitter kola, palm wine, any form of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine and others.” Gabriel continued: “In Nigeria presently, there are many types of substances, which are abused. The popular one is called weed, which goes for just a little amount of money. There’s also Colorado; a lot of them are available, which people take and experience different effects. This is because as the variety occurs, it has some other stuff in them to enhance the feelings. Anybody that uses psychoactive substances is using it to solve a problem.”
He stated that using such substances was a poor way of overcoming life challenges. He noted that people, who at times, might be overwhelmed with certain challenges, may have issues with self-esteem and resort to using substances. He said such people may have issues with depression and mood swings and may stumble upon marijuana or any psychoactive substances. He stated that such people take such substances to treat their challenges. He further stated that people use marijuana as a means to attempt to cope with certain life challenges.
Gabriel also said: “Some students, who are not doing well in their academics, use weed to try and upset the negative feelings associated with poor academic performance. They feel unhappy, depressed and frustrated with each futile effort they make in their academics. Marijuana takes away the feeling, giving them maybe some boldness, or maybe just gives them some positive feelings.
“People use weed for a lot of reasons; but we’re talking about the impact of weed academically, in university students’ life. Yes, weed impacts all forms of performances, including academic performance. It is because the substances affect feeling and behaviour, that it naturally affects all performances. If you’re feeling negative, most likely the performance will be negative. If you are feeling positive, most likely the performance will be positive.” The doctor said that marijuana affects many parts of the body, including cognitive functioning. He explained that cognitive functioning are those things, which make people process information properly before making a decision. “This includes attention, memory and judgement. These are very important areas of cognition that allow us to make good decisions. Some students, who have taken marijuana, will have these cognitive areas affected, especially the attention, concentration and the judgment. Attention will be impaired, if that happens, all part of the memory will be impaired. If attention is impaired, concentration will be impaired; all this part of memory will be impaired. If memory is impaired, judgement will be impaired, if judgment is impaired, any decision that the person makes will be impaired.
We can see how it affects performance of course. If the cognition is impaired, it’s either that or maybe there’s going to be a reduction in the amount of attention that one is paying to a particular issue and this is because concentration has been affected.” Gabriel also said: “Some people will tell you that when they smoke weed, they feel good, they’re able to be sharp, they are able to pay attention.
But there’s this fake feeling of efficiency when one uses weed, a sort of artificial enhancement. People who use psychoactive substances fail, but if they say they’re doing well under the use of marijuana, they will have done a lot better if not for the weed.”