New Study Shows That It's Alcohol and Not Pot That Lowers IQ
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New Study Shows That It’s Alcohol and Not Pot That Lowers IQ


This post was originally published on November 7, 2014.

A UK study led by Claire Mokrysz from the University College of London has determined that there is no connection between occasional adolescent pot smoking and declining IQ tests but that there is that connection when it comes to cigarette smoking and alcohol use. The study was presented at the annual convention of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (no, that’s not a mistype) and it contradicts the recent federal government claim that weed effects people’s IQ and therefore should remain illegal.

The researchers looked at almost 3,000 kids in Bristol, England born between 1991 and 1992 and tested them at the ages of eight and 15. Mokrysz and her crew found that there was no “detrimental effect on cognition, once [they]accounted for other factors particularly cigarette and alcohol use.” Basically, they found out that weed does nothing to a teenager’s brain but drinking and smoking cigarettes absolutely does. “Alcohol was found to be strongly associated with IQ decline,” Mokrysz claimed and that maybe the bad rap weed gets suggests that it comes from the “lifestyle, behavior and personal history associated with cannabis use, rather than cannabis use itself.”

The research does say, though, that heavy weed smoking is associated with slightly poorer exam results at the age of 16. As a former American teenager in the early 2000s, I can safely say that out of everyone I knew who smoked weed a lot, only a few of them went on to get grades and/or go on to good colleges. Smoking pot at 16 isn’t good for grades or anything productive.

I smoked a lot of weed at that age and couldn’t be trusted to get to my grandma’s house on time when she was going to give me 20 dollars. When you’re 16, everything is amplified times a billion: heartbreak, schoolwork, sports outcomes and drug use. Teenagers do everything obsessively because their bodies are like Ferraris with zero miles on them. I used to eat triple cheeseburgers from Wendy’s and gather grocery carts in the rain right after. I also used to smoke lots of weed and take tests right after. I did not do well on those tests. If I were in this study, I would have fit right into this mold because weed isn’t what made me dumber; it was the laziness, goofiness and rebellious attitude that did. Weed itself didn’t go into my brain and slow it down—I did that fine all by myself.

Mokrysz sums it up perfectly when she asks, “Do kids do badly at school because they’re smoking weed, or do they smoke weed because they’re doing badly?” It’s a slippery slope (especially at the all-boys Catholic school I went to) but it’s nice to know that it was the cheap beer and chewing tobacco that went into my body and changed some things around and not the marijuana.

Guy Goodwin from the University of Oxford and Mokrysz told BBC News that the study is important because it suggests that the current perception of marijuana is incorrect and that we should focus our attention on more harmful substances that are easily bought all over the world.

Other studies are finding the same thing. I get it. Just imagine coke talking to heroin in the corner while weed tries to butt in. They look at him awkwardly and he walks away, ashamed that he can’t even slightly dip IQ tests in already dumb teenagers.

I’m a sober male and former abuser of every substance including weed. I can honestly say that all it did was make me feel good, hungry and funny. I can also honestly say that I abused alcohol and that all it did was get me arrested, crash cars and burn bridges.

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About Author

Carlos Herrera is a comedian, photographer and writer whose work can also be found on The Fix . He has been featured in LA Weekly and has performed at The Hollywood Improv among other places.