According to a study on the negative health effects of smoking marijuana published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, smoking marijuana may have a permanent impact on a young person’s intelligence and ability to achieve. The results indicate that smoking marijuana on a regular basis from a young age is linked to a lower IQ.
The research makes it clear that nothing is cut and dried. The researchers are not able to confirm that smoking marijuana actually makes a student less intelligent but they believe that marijuana can disrupt a “critical period” of brain development during a person’s teen years.
The report states: “Adults who smoked regularly during adolescence (have) impaired neural connectivity” in areas of the brain related to alertness, executive function, learning, memory, processing of habits and routines and self conscious awareness.
Smoking marijuana during the teen years is also tied to criminal behavior, an increased risk of dropping out of school and low grades. The data is not strong enough to support an actual causal effect but proposes that all available evidence could account for the connection.
While some studies indicate the negative effects of smoking marijuana may dwindle after the drug is no longer present in the brain and can be reversed after a user stops smoking, other reports demonstrate that “long term, heavy use of marijuana results in impairments in memory and attention that persist and worsen with increasing years of regular use.” Additionally, the paper points out that smoking marijuana can hinder cognitive functioning for a number of days after using thus increasing the chances that students could very well be performing “below their natural ability” for a significant time span.
With legalization in place in Colorado and looming in many other states, there is some concern that people will begin to think that smoking marijuana recreationally is entirely without consequence. Therefore, experts believe it especially important to pay attention to current studies regarding the relationship between smoking marijuana and any and all negative effects in student achievement.