Is Your Brain Totally Shot if You Smoked Weed as a Teen?

If you smoked weed when you were young, your brain is fine.

In recent years, some studies — albeit controversial studies — have suggested that marijuana can have adverse affects on “the maturing adolescent brain,” Science Magazine reports. However, a recent breakthrough study found that there may be “no measurable link between marijuana use and lower IQ.”

Most of us have smoked weed at some point in our lives. And if the conversations I’ve had with friends and family are universal, most people had their first toke when they were in junior high or high school.

But according to the study, conducted by Nicholas Jackson of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and his colleagues, that may not be such a bad thing. As this study differs from previous research that only examined a “single snapshot in time.”

Jackson’s study examined 789 pairs of adolescent twins between the ages of 9 and 11 from two ongoing studies. “Over the course of 10 years, the team administered five intelligence tests and confidential surveys about marijuana use,” Science reports. The researchers also asked about “other drug use such as opioid painkillers, cocaine, and binge drinking. Marijuana users lost about four IQ points over the course of the study. But their abstinent twin siblings showed a similar pattern of decline, suggesting that the loss of mental sharpness was due to something other than pot.”

Jackson says that the study’s findings lead the researchers to think the “something else” was something in the twins’ shared environment — most likely home life, school, and peers.

While this study is making waves right now, another recent study found similar results.

This separate study was conducted by Valerie Curran, psychopharmacologist at the University College London, and her colleagues.  The study examined 2,000 non-twin British teens.

While these studies were well written and researched, they still don’t prove without a doubt that marijuana doesn’t harm teens’ brains.

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Image of teen smoking weed via Shutterstock

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy! Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.