'High' Achievers? Cannabis Access and Academic Performance

43 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2015

See all articles by Olivier Marie

Olivier Marie

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Ulf Zölitz

University of Zurich; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


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.

Keywords: marijuana, legalization, student performance

JEL Classification: I18, I20, K42

Suggested Citation

Marie, Olivier and Zölitz, Ulf, 'High' Achievers? Cannabis Access and Academic Performance. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8900, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2582535 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2582535

Olivier Marie (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Ulf Zölitz

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics