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For many years, potheads have been portrayed in movies and television shows as slow-minded, free-wheeling characters in search of their next fix. Is this stereotype fair or even true at all? A new study claims to confirm all that and more.
The report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS), follows on the heels of another study from last fall, which observed smaller orbital frontal cortexes in mice who were chronically exposed to marijuana smoke. That evidence hasn’t been confirmed in humans (with smaller orbital frontal cortexes than normal), mostly because subjects weren’t studied over a long enough period of time.
The newer PNAS study followed subjects for over 30 years in the search of conclusive data about IQ in pot smokers. The study was longitudinal, so it tested subjects from birth until age 38. Some subjects picked up a marijuana habit along the way while others didn’t. The important consideration in this study was that it “eliminate the possibility that people with lower IQs are more likely to smoke pot.” Here’s what the researchers found:
(1) Those who frequently smoke pot over a period of time often experience memory deficits and problems with concentration as well as lower IQ;
(2) Pot smokers who picked up the habit as teenagers were the most greatly affected with an average deficit of 8 IQ points;
(3) A reduction of 8 IQ points is significant enough to have negative effects on a person’s professional outlook.
(4) Those who smoked marijuana for years and later quit failed to “bounce back” in terms of IQ points.
The most frightening result of this study reflected the lasting effects of adolescent minds exposed to marijuana. These effects likely happen because subjects’ brains were still forming new thought pathways they picked up their drug habits.
Forbes took notice of the study’s conclusions and translated them into information about pot smokers’ collective net worth. Forbes says, “individuals with an IQ of 110 have an average net worth of $71,000 and individuals with an IQ of 120 have an average net worth of $128,000.” The bottom line is that pot smoking may lower your bottom line, and they’re not simply talking about the money tossed towards enterprising drug dealers.