Better schools could reduce marijuana risk, assert researchers at University of California

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A recent study in California shows that marijuana use is tied to school systems

An interesting study conducted of high-schoolers in Los Angeles County showed some interesting results. Teenagers from low-income neighborhoods who attend high-performing schools are less prone to turn to marijuana than those who remained at schools in their designated districts. The question remains if it’s because of curriculums or peer groups.

A number of teenagers from low-income neighborhoods have been selected to attend high schools out of their district through a lottery system. This lottery, says researchers, provides a “natural experiment,” as all participants are on a level playing field prior to being selected. The study followed 1,270 students who had applied to one of five charter schools in 2013 and 2014. Of the group, 694 had won the ability to attend one of the schools. The researchers surveyed all of the participants before they entered 9th grade and again during 10th and 11th grade to determine if marijuana was a part of their routine.

Those teenagers attending the charter schools were found to be less likely to abuse marijuana. They were also found to be less likely to be associated with anyone who abused the drug.

According to Dr. Rebecca Dudovitz, a pediatrician with the LA Mattel Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study, “This suggests that schools are not just a place to learn academic skills, but also a social environment that might directly impact on health.” She added, “Another theory is that less supportive environments may be more harmful for boys. The students in this study were largely minorities from low-income families. Other studies have shown that boys of color can be stigmatized less in a supportive school environment.”

The study reveals the importance of offering a proper education to everyone, and how exterior influences can impact the education experience. It shows that there is no individual predisposition to any particular activity and that certain groups are affected simply by their surroundings.