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Marijuana Use Lowers IQ in Teens, Study FInds

Update Date: Aug 29, 2012 07:14 AM EDT

The history of Marijuana use in the U.S. has been a hot topic for a long time. The proponents of its use list the many benefits and medical science has proven that there are many benefits with minimal side effects.

However, its detractors cite that using marijuana is a "gateway" drug to using harder, more illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Despite where you end up on the great marijuana debate, one fact is certain: children should not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, take anti-depressants or use marijuana.

Most research shows that a significant number of teens report that they have used marijuana by their high school years and some smoke marijuana regularly. This may be a mistake if you want to keep your mental faculties sharp.

A new study has found that smoking marijuana in your teen years and continued use into adult years can cost you a few I.Q. By contrast, people who started smoking marijuana in their adult years did not experience any loss of I.Q. points.

The research appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was gathered by periodic interviews with over a 1000 people racked from birth through age 38 and included their level of marijuana use and its effects, if any.

"Adolescent-onset cannabis users showed significant I.Q. declines, and more persistent use was associated with greater declines," said the lead author, Madeline H. Meier, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University.

The study participants who used marijuana heavily from high school through age 38 scored 8 points lower on an I.Q. test than they had when originally tested, at 13-years-old. A persons Intelligence Quotient or I.Q. reveals the core, innate abilities of each person's brain (your clock speed, your RAM, your absolute limit, etc.) and are generally stable; those who did not use marijuana or started as adults showed no real change, averaging about 100.

"We know that there are developmental changes occurring in the teen years and up through the early 20s, and the brain may be especially vulnerable during this time," Dr. Meier said.

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