Does frequent marijuana use dumb you down? Mind you, we’re not talking about recreational smoking, we’re talking about multiple times a week smoking.
The scientific research seems inconclusive but overall suggests the possibility that frequent weed smoking can lower your IQ, particularly if your use began in your teen years.
Here’s what the National Institute of Health has to say about the matter as of March 2016:
“…a study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing cannabis use disorder lost an average of eight points between ages 13 and 38…Those who started smoking as adults did not show notable IQ declines.” (source)
The study they reference was done in 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences: Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife.
A more recent study, published in January 2016 in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, says not so fast:
“…those who had used cannabis ≥50 times did not differ from never-users on either IQ or educational performance.” (source)
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
A Lot More Research Needs to be Done
One thing about the Journal of Psychopharmacology article does catch my eye: the bit about ≥50 times a week.
Let’s say the “greater than” number is 52, that’s only once per week in a year’s time.
Now let’s say the “greater than” number is 365, or once per day in a year’s time. I’m no scientist but wouldn’t you think that there’s a huge difference between 52 times and 365 times in potential affect. Not to mention that just one time per day is still pretty lightweight compared to some users. I used to smoke 2-4 times a day and have been around people who hit it even harder. The study does not directly address this aspect of marijuana use.
I think it’s fair to say that a lot more research needs to be done to prove whether or not frequent marijuana use will lower your IQ.
So while the jury is still out, some would say “there’s no proof, nothing to worry about here.” Others would say “well there’s still the possibility, why gamble with your intellect?”
Unfortunately, while the experts are still figuring this out, we turn to more anecdotal evidence or life experience…and that may be all the proof we need anyway.
A Personal Journey with Pot and Brain Function
I know without a doubt that while I was smoking weed on a daily basis, my verbal acuity declined during that time. I often caught myself mid sentence pausing for the right word to use when I had previously used that same word on a regular basis my whole life.
Fortunately, now that I no longer smoke weed, I no longer notice that characteristic in myself. Nor do I feel the overall mental slowness that I used to feel.
Did I lower my IQ while I was smoking weed? I can’t say yea or nay to that. Did my IQ improve after I quit? I can’t say yea or nay to that either. Not that it was all that high to begin with. (Pun and self deprecating humor intended.) But I definitely feel like my brain works a lot faster now that I’m not constantly smoking weed.
Let me also say though that I noticed this much more in my thirties than I did in my twenties. I also noticed it more and more in my pot smoking friends the older they got.
Again, its anecdotal observance but I will stand on this: I definitely dumbed myself down while I was smoking pot on a daily basis. That’s not a good thing in a highly competitive world.
So I don’t know if you’ve experienced the same thing I did, but if you’ve got the slightest inkling that smoking pot day after day is slowing you down mentally, isn’t that reason enough to stop?
Your mind is your greatest asset and Mother Nature has tuned it perfectly without having to smother it with chemicals that you either inhale or imbibe.
Yeah, I know it hard to stop smoking weed even when you know what it’s doing to you. If you need help with that, check out our resources.