Giving remarks to the Native American Housing Association, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson strayed into the marijuana reform debate. Unfortunately, the doctor did not know his facts.
Per the Flathead Beacon:
The HUD secretary briefly strayed from his prepared remarks to note that he believed marijuana use was just as problematic as opiate abuse.
“I’m not all that enthusiastic about marijuana because there have been numerous studies that show exposing a developing brain to marijuana can lead to lower IQs,” he said. “We already have enough people with a low IQ, and we don’t need anymore.”
The ongoing stereotype of marijuana consumers may be funny in movies, but it runs counter to evidence based science.
NORML has reported on three studies over the last year and a half that have come out dispelling this myth.
In London, United Kingdom, researchers concluded, “In summary, the notion that cannabis use itself is causally related to lower IQ and poorer educational performance was not supported in this large teenage sample.”
Data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences led researchers to conclude: “In the largest longitudinal examination of marijuana use and IQ change, … we find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline. … [T]he lack of a dose-response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”
Researchers published in the journal Addiction wrote: “[W]e found that youth who used cannabis … had lower IQ at age 18, but there was little evidence that cannabis use was associated with IQ decline from age 12 to 18. Moreover, although cannabis use was associated with lower IQ and poorer executive functions at age 18, these associations were generally not apparent within pairs of twins from the same family, suggesting that family background factors explain why adolescents who use cannabis perform worse on IQ and executive function tests.”
Investigators concluded, “Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence.”
Their findings are consistent with those of several other studies – including those here, here, and here– finding that cannabis use alone during adolescence does not appear to have a significant, direct adverse effect on intelligence quotient.
Further, as to Secretary Carson’s remarks in the context of the nations opioid epidemic, it is important to note that medical marijuana access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use and abuse, opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related traffic fatalities, and opioid-related overdose deaths.
Don’t let those who speak in outdated rhetoric fool you. Stay vigilant against those who maintain the systems of prohibitionist oppression.