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'High' Achievers? Cannabis Access and Academic Performance

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  • Olivier Marie
  • Ulf Zölitz

Abstract

This paper investigates how legal cannabis access affects student performance. Identification comes from an exceptional policy introduced in the city of Maastricht which discriminated legal access based on individuals’ nationality. We apply a difference-in-difference approach using administrative panel data on over 54,000 course grades of local students enrolled at Maastricht University before and during the partial cannabis prohibition. We find that the academic performance of students who are no longer legally permitted to buy cannabis increases substantially. Grade improvements are driven by younger students, and the effects are stronger for women and low performers. In line with how THC consumption affects cognitive functioning, we find that performance gains are larger for courses that require more numerical/mathematical skills. We investigate the underlying channels using students’ course evaluations and present suggestive evidence that performance gains are driven by improved understanding of material rather than changes in students’ study effort.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Marie & Ulf Zölitz, 2015. "'High' Achievers? Cannabis Access and Academic Performance," CESifo Working Paper Series 5304, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5304
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp5304.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Adda, Jérôme & McConnell, Brendon & Rasul, Imran, 2014. "Crime and the depenalization of cannabis possession: evidence," Economics Working Papers ECO2014/05, European University Institute.
    2. Jérôme Adda & Brendon McConnell & Imran Rasul, 2014. "Crime and the Depenalization of Cannabis Possession: Evidence from a Policing Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(5), pages 1130-1202.
    3. Jan Feld & Ulf Zölitz, 2017. "Understanding Peer Effects: On the Nature, Estimation, and Channels of Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 387-428.
    4. Carrell, Scott E. & Hoekstra, Mark & West, James E., 2011. "Does drinking impair college performance? Evidence from a regression discontinuity approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 54-62.
    5. D. Mark Anderson & Benjamin Hansen & Daniel I. Rees, 2013. "Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(2), pages 333-369.
    6. Scott E. Carrell & Teny Maghakian & James E. West, 2011. "A's from Zzzz's? The Causal Effect of School Start Time on the Academic Achievement of Adolescents," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 62-81, August.
    7. Scott E. Carrell & James E. West, 2010. "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 409-432, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chu, Luke Yu-Wei & Gershenson, Seth, 2016. "High times: The effect of medical marijuana laws on student time use," Working Paper Series 5046, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
    2. Jörg Kalbfuß & Reto Odermatt & Alois Stutzer, 2018. "Medical Marijuana Laws and Mental Health in the United States," CEP Discussion Papers dp1546, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Benjamin Hansen & Keaton Miller & Caroline Weber, 2017. "The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: How Extensive is the Interstate Trafficking of Recreational Marijuana?," NBER Working Papers 23762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cannabis; legalization; student performance;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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