‘Stoner Stupid’ Myth Goes Up In Smoke

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 27, 2011

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here.]

    The consumption of cannabis, even long-term, poses few adverse effects on cognitive performance, according to clinical trial data to be published in the scientific journal Addiction.

    Investigators at the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, Center for Mental Health Research assessed the impact of cannabis use on various measures of memory and intelligence in over 2,000 self-identified marijuana consumers and non-users over an eight-year period. Among cannabis consumers, subjects were grouped into the following categories: ‘heavy’ (once a week or more) users, ‘light’ users, ‘former heavy’ users, ‘former light’ users, and ‘always former’ — a category that consisted of respondents who had ceased using marijuana prior to their entry into the study.

    Researchers reported: “Only with respect to the immediate recall measure was there evidence of an improved performance associated with sustained abstinence from cannabis, with outcomes similar to those who had never used cannabis at the end point. On the remaining cognitive measures, after controlling for education and other characteristics, there were no significant differences associated with cannabis consumption.”

    They concluded, “Therefore, the adverse impacts of cannabis use on cognitive functions either appear to be related to pre-existing factors or are reversible in this community cohort even after potentially extended periods of use.”

    Separate studies have previously reported that long-term marijuana use is not associated with residual deficits in neurocognitive function. Specifically, a 2001 study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry found that chronic cannabis consumers who abstained from the drug for one week “showed virtually no significant differences from control subjects (those who had smoked marijuana less than 50 times in their lives) on a battery of 10 neuropsychological tests. … Former heavy users, who had consumed little or no cannabis in the three months before testing, [also] showed no significant differences from control subjects on any of these tests on any of the testing days.”

    Additionally, studies have also implied that cannabis may be neuroprotective against alcohol-induced cognitive deficits. A 2009 study by investigators at the University of California and San Diego reported that binge drinkers who also used cannabis experienced significantly less white matter damage to the brain as compared to subjects who consumed alcohol alone.

    For more information regarding the impact of cannabis on brain function, see NORML’s factsheet ‘Cannabis and the Brain: A User’s Guide,’ here.

    100 responses to “‘Stoner Stupid’ Myth Goes Up In Smoke”

    1. greenthumb says:

      I wonder every single time you guys post a break through story, does the federal government even read these? if so, why isn’t any of this being recognized? Seems totally counter productive to ignore the people when your government is based on the will of the people.

    2. […] NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and Enjoy: […]

    3. Charles says:

      Every time I’ve ever had an official IQ test, I’ve always scored at least 140+ (ranging from 140-160 depending on the test) and that is both pre-smoking as a teen and post-smoking for seven years including a year of heavy smoking as an adult. In fact due to my ADHD, smoking a moderate amount helps me to improve retention instead due to the facts it relaxes me and helps improves my overall concentration. Any negligible adverse effects on retention are overcome and outweighed by the benefits for me personally. This can not be said for any ADHD medicine I’ve ever used during my lifetime. Ritalin had no effect on me(I took myself off of it with doctor approval as a teen as a personal experiment) and nor did any other medicine I was ever prescribed.

    4. thad ayre says:

      nothing I didn’t already know…but it’s nice to see it backed up by a scientific study

    5. bob says:

      Isn’t it time for like a Wikilek dump of all this info?

    6. Cat Cassie says:

      Well now I know why the head of the DEA doesn’t want any testing done on MJ. She knows good and well what the outcome would be.

    7. […] The Good Folks at NORMAL The consumption of cannabis, even long-term, poses few adverse effects on cognitive performance, […]

    8. Rebel with a Cause says:

      The Religious Freedom Restoration Act – RFRA of 1993 H.R 1308 is Unconstitutional.

      The constitutionality of RFRA as applied to the federal government was confirmed on February 21, 2006, as the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the government in Gonzales v. O Centro Espinito Beneficente Uniao do Vegital, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), which involved the use of an otherwise illegal substance in a religious ceremony, decisively stating that the federal government must show a compelling state interest in restricting religious freedom.
      Other weaknesses still exist in the fact that, despite congressional resolution, “unofficial religious antagonism” still exists today through adverse legislation and judicial and executive decisions. Also, even with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, many members of the Native American Church still had issues using peyote in their ceremonies because of the Smith case. This led to the Religious Freedom Act Amendments in 1994 which states, “the use, possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian for bona fide traditional ceremony purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion is lawful, and shall not be prohibited by the United States or any state. No Indian shall be penalized or discriminated against on the basis of such use, possession or transportation.” Rastas and the Native American Church are not prohibited from their Sacraments. So then – it goes without saying – Genesists have that very same right – and – we unequivocally claim religious use – and – the “free exercise thereof.”

    9. DENNI66 says:

      Done playing GOD yet?

    10. ancient wizard says:

      I have used cannabis for most of my adult life. I have a graduate degree in the biological sciences, a professional job and a wonderful, successful family. So much for the myth that if you smoke pot you turn into a brainless loser. I would like see more posts like this and show the world we won’t be scared by myths and lies from the federal government.