When it comes to the faithful arguments marijuana critics always pull out of the bag to back their ideals, this has been a frontrunner for decades. The theory that smoking pot as a teenager has the potential to make a person dumber throughout later life is one that’s been doing the rounds for decades. What’s more, there have also been a fair number of studies carried out which appear to have produced evidence to suggest that both teen brain activity and growth can be detrimentally affected by marijuana.
Unfortunately for those reading into such scare stories however, new analysis has brought to light evidence suggesting things may be quite to the contrary. It’s not to say that marijuana use as a teenager will necessarily make anyone smarter, but a study carried out between the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the University of Minnesota has well and truly thrown all the above mentioned fears and concerns into real doubt.
In a nutshell, a group of scientists decided to analyse the data collected by way of two extensive studies which involved twin siblings. Close to 3,100 participants (including a member of twins) were asked to carry out a variety of intelligence tests over the course of a decade, including tests before any marijuana use whatsoever (between ages 9 and 12) and once again when the participants were between the ages of 17 and 20.
At several junctures during the test periods, the participants were asked to record their marijuana use accordingly.
At the end of the study, the data was analysed and the pattern noted initially didn’t come as any real surprise. On the whole, it appeared that those who had been using marijuana throughout the test period had declined cognitive abilities and achieved lower intelligence test scores. However, in instances where one twin had not used any marijuana at all but their identical counterparts had smoked pot throughout the test period, they are absolutely no notable differences in the results of the tests.
As such, the overall conclusion was that marijuana use could not be directly linked to the lower intelligence test scores and cognitive ability discrepancies recorded. If marijuana had been to blame, there should have been distinct differences in the readings from one twin to the next – this simply didn’t turn out to be the case.
What Does It All Mean?
In terms of what this all means in the big picture, it’s once again of the old ‘cause and effect’ debate igniting once again. Or in other words, does marijuana use have a detrimental effect on intelligence and brain capacity, or is it the other way round – as in intelligence and brain capacity influencing the likelihood of marijuana use?
The simple fact of the matter is that the evidence produced to date by a wide variety of studies carried out all over the world is so incredibly conflicting that reaching any comprehensive conclusion is borderline impossible. But in any case, this does at least pour a great deal of icy cold water on the heated arguments of critics who claim that smoking marijuana as a teenager will definitely have a detrimental impact on later life in general.
There’s just as much evidence to suggest this is in fact not the case.
Chances are we really won’t have any kind of rock-solid evidence to work with until a great many studies of a much more extensive nature are carried out and fully analysed. Suffice to say, the fact that tens of thousands of young adults are now happily (and legitimately) toking away in Colorado means that a decade from now, we’ll probably know the full truth.
And with the way things are going, it’ll be a truth that wipes a fair bit of smugness from the collective face of the marijuana critics’ crowd.