There is no doubt that marijuana helps open the mind to new possibilities and has great advantages for artists and creative talents alike. It allows you to be open to a world that you have pushed away so long! It lets you think abstractly, outside of the box and insightfully. Could it be slowing us down book-wise though or is it the opposite? Well, that depends; how much pot can you smoke? Moderate smokers increase their IQ while heavy smokers lower it. If you can moderate yourself, you can smoke for life without experiencing mind dulling effects, but heavy pot smokers beware.

One eight year study at Carleton University, Ottawa Canada was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and followed seventy children. They were originally tested between the ages of nine and twelve, then again between ages seventeen and twenty. Those who smoked more than five joints a week dropped an average of four points. It is assumed that around 6.5 percent of us have an IQ below 77 already, which is theorized that it  could be closer to 11 with marijuana increasing in popularity, though the drug isn’t really being used more often than before… it’s old news to most of us. It would be hard to find a large group of people who have never tried it at all. The study did show that young people could regain their knowledge if they gave up smoking, meaning that most of the brain damage is reversible at least in three months time. It may be in your best interest though to wait to smoke marijuana at least regularly until you are a fully developed adult; a safe age would be twenty five.

It was not just heavy pot smokers in the study though;the study consisted of middle class adults ranging from non smokers, light smokers and heavy smokers. Light users were considered to smoke less than five joints a weed while heavy tokens enjoyed thirty three or more. They were tested for THC content via urine samples. All participants in this study were subjected to IQ tests prior at the age of nine to twelve. Non-smokers may have a slight increase since then if none at all, but light smokers experienced an average raise of five points more than non smokers.  Heavy users, though would lose an average of four points. It also showed heavy users who quit did not show any decrease in IQ, implying that affects are not long term.

A separate study released in The Guardian looked at the effects on the brain caused by smoking marijuana, co-led by Dr. Sina Aslan from the University of Texas at Dallas. The results suggested an increase in connectivity functionally and structurally, though it may only be compensation for grey matter loss. Eventually, the structurally connectivity of the brain began to degrade with prolonged use. Six to eight years of non stop use could show a decrease in signal wiring, but still stronger than those of non users. The increase in connectivity is at its most concentrated just as you are doing the drug, then goes back down from there. 

This research on marijuana was unique to any other done before because it combined three magnetic resonance imaging techniques to evaluate different brain characteristics. It followed forty eight adult cannabis users between the age of twenty to thirty six who were compared with non users. These cannabis users smoked on average three times daily. Though their IQ’s were lower, it did not appear to be related to brain abnormalities. The scans showed that cannabis over time shrinks the orbitofrontal cortex region of the brain which is involved in mental processing and decision making. It also influences responses to rewards and is linked strongly with empathy. This damage may contribute to forms of psychopathy.

There are more studies, but not a lot. Not enough to have any real answers unfortunately and there probably won’t be until it is widely legal. For me though, the research above was enough to prove that heavy smoking can impede your life, though moderate use can increase it. If you use marijuana as a creative aid and not just an escape from the world, you can use it to your advantage. Weed makes you lazy, sometimes. Not all of it, so don’t be another stereotype! Get out there and do something amazing, but don’t smoke so much! Also, smoking while you are young can be more harmful because your brain is developing. It you must, keep it minimal.