Marijuana Influences Academic Performance

Apr 1, 2014 by

An Interview with Tammy Strickling:Marijuana Influences Academic Performance


Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) First of all, tell us about what you do, and your background and experience.

I have been working in the area of rehabilitation and reform for 20 years. I came from the entertainment industry which most of my family had been or was involved in. At the time my twin brother had a severe addiction and was in a gang and generally destroying his life and that of my family. He is 20 years clean and sober from the treatment program I run today and was my inspiration in changing my path in life. I started working with gangs and in juvenile institutions working on literacy and drug education.

I struggled between the drug and crime problems and decided, like in the case with my brother, I could never help the crime problem without addressing the drugs so that became my focus. Helping people overcome their addictions and learn how to live without drugs so they can succeed and be happy and educate and set a positive example for others going forward.

2) Secondly, tell us in your mind, what the consequences of marijuana are.

I think they are devastating. On an individual level, marijuana affects a person’s behavior, attitudes, cognitive thinking, memory, perception of reality, decreases IQ, lessens reaction time, causes anxiety, etc. Long term effects include reduced ability to learn and retain information, personality and mood changes, depression, anxiety. There are even studies now that point to marijuana producing schizophrenia.

On a social level, the consequences are also devastating. With legalization of marijuana comes greater use by all age groups but specifically by our youth. Those we should be protecting and empowering to live great lives full of energy and promise in order to address and tackle the issues we face as a society and a nation, which they will be dealing with in adulthood.

Our future will be made up of today’s youth and if all the adults around them are saying “yes” to drugs, why would they say “no”. Whether we are talking about dangers on the road, school and work performance or greater addiction problems marijuana will not make a person better or smarter or more successful.

3) In addition to disorganization, lethargy, apathy, sleepiness and lack of motivation, social skills are often impacted also – am I correct on this?

Absolutely. People take drugs because they want to change or escape something or to relax or “chill out”. Young people are at a place in their lives where they are challenged by life and social situations and instead of getting the tools and help to learn how to process thoughts and emotions and increase cognitive thinking towards effective solutions, they are instead suppressing these through drug use. Kids or an adult for that matter who can’t relate to other people, socialize and not feel uncomfortable unless they’re high is a serious problem. I have heard from people time and time again that they use marijuana to escape reality, relax, and fit-in or to relieve boredom.

Social skills are not then being learned and/or strengthened because they can just get high and it’ll all go away. Problem is, the “release” is temporary and the user will need more and more drugs to get to the same place and try to recapture that high. So the social problems just escalate.

4) How can some states rationalize legalizing marijuana? Is it just for the tax money?

I honestly don’t understand how government can rationalize legalizing marijuana. My feeling is that if our states and government cannot make money, create solvency and prosper while maintaining ethics and morals and doing what is right for our children and society, they should be replaced. But that is another argument.

The truth is for every dollar we get in taxes on addictive substances we spend $10 in social costs. Entire enforcement agencies and committees to enforce legalized substances are created. We will need committees that will study its effects, having yet new regulatory agencies to review and oversee policies of marijuana use and sales. The amount of work that will need to be done to oversee marijuana and study its use is just a complete waste of time and money and it’s hard to imagine that it could be argued to have more benefit than harm.

5) I think “medicinal marijuana” is simply a lot of nonsense- if some medical doctor cannot find an alternative medication that works, I am not sure where they went to medical school. Am I off on this?

Absolutely. We already have so many drugs to address pain and physical symptoms. Oxycodone was used to handle the pain associated with cancer and other physical ailments and look at the epidemic that has created. Oxycodone is listed as a Schedule II drug vs. Marijuana which is listed as a Schedule I drug which means it is highly addictive and has no known medical value. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drugs with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. 

Marijuana has always been listed as a Schedule One drug so why now are our governments changing their minds and approving it for use – widespread use. Continually drugging the body with any drug lessens its ability to do its job – physically and mentally. Legalizing marijuana to address pain is ridiculous and the underlying true intentions of that should be confronted because in the end it will only create a dumbed down society. It will certainly not result in a thriving, healthy, pain-free population of people that are now tackling life’s issues with success.

6) Bottom line question – is marijuana addictive, or does it lead to other drugs?

Yes. Marijuana is addictive. Marijuana leads to other harder drugs. 90% of clients in my treatment facility have marijuana listed at the top of their drug list. It started there and escalated. Marijuana is a psychoactive substance which changes a person and he attempts to keep that change going which requires more and more drug use. When marijuana isn’t enough to produce the desired effect, people do move to harder drugs.

7) While research has shown I.Q. deficits, associated with marijuana use, what about other changes-like personality changes, sluggishness, long response time, low frustration tolerance?

Marijuana use results in a long list of negative effects and these are certainly among them.

8) Do they adolescents (and their parents) and senators and congressmen REALLY understand the impact of pot on adolescent growth and development?

If they do and they fight for it and legalize it anyway they are being extremely irresponsible. If they don’t and haven’t done their research and honestly evaluated the devastating effects drugs have on our society they are being extremely irresponsible.

CBD is the active chemical compound in marijuana which is believed to have a medical application. It does not get you high. THC is the main chemical compound in marijuana and is a psychoactive substance which gets you high. This marijuana debate isn’t about CBD, it’s about marijuana which is grown and modified to have higher levels of THC than we have ever experienced before. The marijuana today is not like the marijuana from decades ago. I have had many comments from people regarding growing marijuana with higher CBD levels and the comments are “what’s the point?” which is telling of the true intentions of the legalization debate.

We can’t really debate an issue without being honest about what we’re debating. People want to legalize marijuana – not so the terminally ill and dying can feel better for a time – but so people can legally get high. What are the statistics of marijuana being used for the terminally ill vs. regular people who want an outlet to escape? I suspect the ratio is wildly on the side of those with no medical issue who just want to use the drug. Case in point, in Denver Colorado marijuana was legalized; there are now 400 marijuana dispensaries. There are 200 Starbucks. Starbucks was founded in 1971 and marijuana was made legal in 2012. That is an alarming and dangerous trend.

9) How do we make them aware?

We need to get the truth and the facts out there so people can be educated on this issue and on drugs generally. People need to read, do the research, ask questions and not just go with the flow or believe the hype.

10) Tell us about treatment options at your facility.

At Suncoast we provide residential, long term treatment that addresses all aspects of addiction. First, we address the physical factors and handle the nutritional and physical ailments and deficiencies created through drug-use. When the person is doing well physically and isn’t experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms we move into steps that includes courses and counseling that tackle the mental, emotional and behavioral aspects of addiction. The goal of treatment is to get to the underlying factors that caused and resulted in the drug use to begin with and handle that source so that the person is back in control of their lives.

11) What have I neglected to ask?

I think an important question that many aren’t asking is “why are we in a mad rush to legalize marijuana?” Honestly? The medical argument is NOT the argument. The honest to god truth is people want to get high. So this leads me to my next question which is why aren’t we addressing the real issue which includes getting to the bottom of why so many people (and importantly our youth) are actively wanting and finding new and creative ways to escape reality, self-medicate and otherwise attempt to cope instead of facing life and its issues head on. This is what we should be focused on, teaching people how to process emotions, deal with life and relationships, overcome pain (real or imagined) and get better, stronger and more competent.

Drugs, any drug and yes that includes Marijuana will not help a person get better, get smarter, get faster. It does the exact opposite. So we should be asking ourselves why people would want these negative effects?

Tammy Strickling is the CEO of Suncoast Rehab Center, a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization. Tammy began her career in detox and rehabilitation after being inspired by her twin brother, who struggled with substance abuse and is now 20 years sober. Tammy has spent almost two decades helping save lives, reunite families and rebuild communities through her dedicated work in the field of rehabilitation. Recently, she has focused her attention not only on drug rehabilitation, but also education and prevention programs to address the growing drug abuse epidemic. Visit


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.