Using both marijuana and alcohol in college linked to lower GPA: Study

HARTFORD, Conn. — Getting “lit” on a consistent basis may lead students to having a lower grade point average in college, a new study finds.

Researchers from the Institute of Living, a Hartford, Connecticut-based hospital, looked at established data from the Brain and Alcohol Research in College Students (BARCS) study. Knowing that alcohol and marijuana are the most abused substances on college campuses, they sought to learn the effects of both on a student’s grades, whereas most studies focus on one or the other.

The BARCS’ self-reported data set examined a group of 1,142 American college students over their first two undergraduate years, on a semester-to-semester basis. All of the students were categorized as either low or medium-to-high users of marijuana or alcohol.

smoking weed, marijuana, vaping
Smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol can take a significant toll on a college student’s grade point average, a new study finds. (Photo credit:

Researchers found that even when SAT scores entering college were equivalent, students who were medium-to-high consumers of both marijuana and alcohol not only had a lower GPA than their peers during their first semester, but continued to garner lower grades over the entire course of the study.

Those who drank a medium-to-high amount of alcohol, but didn’t consume much marijuana found themselves with a lower GPA mostly during their first semester their grades in the long-term weren’t significantly affected.

“Doing a lot of both drugs had a significant impact, in terms of lower grades in our study, and in other studies, with number of leaves of absences and those who dropped out of school,” says Godfrey Pearlson, the study’s senior author, in a news release.

With marijuana in the forefront of public debate, this study does bring up interesting talking points. We will have to wait for further research in determining exactly how weed and alcohol impact student engagement and retention.

The study was published this week in the journal PLOS One.


  1. Wow… Not studying and partying to all ends of the night…. Could result in bad grades? That study must have been intense… Serious critical thought…

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