A recent report issued by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that heavy marijuana use by teens and young adults can have an adverse affect on their IQ scores.
Now, while experts won’t conclude their findings definitive, they do fall in line with previous assertions that the drug is especially harmful to developing brains.
"Parents should understand their adolescents are particularly vulnerable," lead researcher Madeline Meier of Duke University was quoted as saying.
The study shows that, with some subjects, IQ scores dropped as much as 8 points later in life. They were found to have weaker memories and trouble with focus and attention. The same results could not be found in people who started smoking later in life.
As Richard Poulton, study co-author and professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, puts it, the message from the study is to stay clear of using marijuana as long as possible -- at least into adulthood.
"For some, it’s a legal issue," he told the Huffington Post, "but for me it’s a health issue."
Clearly, if recreational use of marijuana ever becomes legalized, much like tobacco and alcohol safeguards must me put in place to protect children.
As the Huffington Post’s report points out, an average 8-point decrease in IQ score may not seem like a lot, but if the average person’s IQ measured ranked someone of higher
As the Portland Press Herald recently pointed out, marijuana is reported to be the most widely used illegal drug in the world. The United Nations estimates that in 2010 there were between 119 million and 224 million regular users between the ages of 15 and 64. And, in June, the U.S.government reported that 23 percent of high school students claimed to have smoked marijuana "recently." In fact, that number exceeded tobacco for the first time, especially troubling given that it has been measured to be more carcinogenic than tobacco.
Now, we’re not saying this study proves marijuana should remain illegal. In fact, we believe that you consider statistics like incarceration rates and economic impacts, then a strong case could be made to legalize its use. But, as we already stated above, any such legalization needs to make clear delineation on age restrictions for use.
We also must invest in educating the youth of today, who often believe they will live forever, that the effects of heavy prolonged use of this drug far outweighs the instant gratification.
Perhaps the editorial board at the Portland Press Herald put it best: "Young people should think hard about becoming dependent on it -- before it becomes hard for them to think at all."