Long term Cannabis Users Respond to the Latest Study Published in The American Journal of Psychiatry
People have been consuming cannabis in one form or another since the dawn of modern civilization – and potentially even before that. It’s one of the most consumed “illegal” drugs on the planet and all over the world more countries are legalizing it due to its therapeutic benefits and relatively benign substance.
The vast majority of people who smoke cannabis maintain a healthy relationship with it, and some smoke their entire lives without having any significant side effect happen to them. Of course, this is not true for everyone.
There are people that consume cannabis and fall victim to their addictive personalities, or they use marijuana for the sake of numbing or diminishing the prevalence of the anxiety generated by their major point of conflicts in their lives.
The truth of the matter is that cannabis is the “safest” recreational drug on the market with the lowest risk factors than legal competitors such as tobacco and alcohol. Yet, unlike the latter – cannabis has been under scrutiny by researchers since the 1920s and earlier.
One would think with the legalization of cannabis, we would begin to see more studies focused on the overall benefit of cannabis, the positive impact it has on the lives of the majority of the users, and expanding the medical literature about cannabinoids. Yet positive stories hardly get the click-through-rates than stories that provoke people into saying, “WTF?”
A recent Study published in a Harvard blog is one of these “WTF Studies” that not only insults cannabis users from around the planet – but I can guarantee that playing around with some of their assumptions, we could change the results as we see fit.
If you want to learn more about how researchers can “doctor” research to fit a narrative, I highly recommend reading, “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff which will give you a basic introduction to the concept.
Nonetheless, we’ll be taking a deeper look into the nature of the study and then, we’ll turn our attention to the countless anecdotal accounts of real people who have smoked cannabis for over 10 years, about their qualifications and achievements and see whether it resonates with the findings of the study.
Shall we begin the slaughter?
New Zealand Study claims chronic stoners are dumber than non stoners…
Of course, the study didn’t use eloquent words like I do – they but the general gist of it all is that those who smoked from an early age were generally “dumber” in their 40s than those who abstained – or so they claim.
But why listen to me, here’s a piece from the reporting in the Harvard Blog; also, the reason the direct link to the study isn’t included in my article is because “it wasn’t included in the Harvard Blog”.
Recent research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry closely followed nearly 1,000 individuals in New Zealand from age 3 to age 45 to understand the impact of cannabis use on brain function. The research team discovered that individuals who used cannabis long-term (for several years or more) and heavily (at least weekly, though a majority in their study used more than four times a week) exhibited impairments across several domains of cognition.
They took a thousand people, “closely followed” them throughout a 42 year period and discovered “impairments” across domains of cognition. Firstly, “Closely Followed” was probably periodic questionnaires that participants filled out, self reporting, potentially a few brain scans, and checking their academic files…yet there was no actual observation of the people. According to the study they did factor in things like socioeconomic status, baseline childhood intelligence, etc. We’ll get into that a bit later. For now, it’s important to understand that they simply revised documents and plotted out some fancy math to come to their conclusions – yet don’t really tell us how.
Long-term cannabis users’ IQs declined by 5.5 points on average from childhood, and there were deficits in learning and processing speed compared to people that did not use cannabis. The more frequently an individual used cannabis, the greater the resulting cognitive impairment, suggesting a potential causative link. – Harvard Blog
They measured IQ – which is only one of many “intelligences” we have, yet seems to be the one that academics are mostly focused on. They do not tell us how they were able to come up with the “processing speed comparison of brains”, because that is some fancy science there! Also, allegedly the more frequently someone used cannabis, the greater the impact on cognition…yet they don’t show us how they came to that conclusion, which variables were considered, or whether their set of questions accurately measures for cognitive functionality. After all, their study began during the rise of the Drug War…internationally, cannabis was seen as a “bad drug” and this must have influenced their bias.
The study also found that people who knew these long-term cannabis users well observed that they had developed memory and attention problems. The above findings persisted even when the study authors controlled for factors such as dependence on other drugs, childhood socioeconomic status, or baseline childhood intelligence.
Oh really, also memory and attention problems. Here is where they “factored in” for other drugs, childhood socioeconomic status, baseline childhood intelligence…but did they factor in things like recent traumas, current socioeconomic issues, divorce, job loss, whether the person had a bad day when they filled out the questionnaire? How about current medical conditions? All of these factors also play a role in our current cognitive abilities and it has nothing to do with cannabis.
The impact of cannabis on cognitive impairment was greater than that of alcohol or tobacco use. Long-term cannabis users also had smaller hippocampi (the region of the brain responsible for learning and memory). Interestingly, individuals who used cannabis less than once a week with no history of developing dependence did not have cannabis-related cognitive deficits. This suggests there is a range of recreational use that may not lead to long-term cognitive issues.
In other words, “Stoners are dumber than booze hounds and chain smokers…” yet, “a little weed” don’t hurt anyone.
The fact of the matter is that there I no indication on the type of cannabis these people used, how frequently, or any real evidence to back up these assertions. As mentioned, if we were to replicate this experiment, we’d probably come with completely different outcomes.
However, it’s probably even better to listen to long-term stoners who seem to not be suffering any of these issues whatsoever…or, if they were negatively impacted, are legit geniuses.
The Internet Responds!
And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the people who called bullshit.
I’d like to take part in cognitive function studies. I have smoked cannabis throughout the day without taking more than 1 week off for the last 18 years straight. I’m 33, best shape of my life, I read books, listen to podcasts, work in a job that requires miles of daily cardio…I think I’m doing alright all things considered.
There are many cannabis users who share a similar experience. Personally, I smoked heavily during my teen years, but as I got older I smoked less frequently, however, I still smoke weed daily. Just the quantity and quality changed. Back in the day I smoked like there was no tomorrow – now I use it for its abilities to keep me locked in on my work, writing thousands of words per week as if I’m a machine. I’m the definition of a “stoner” and I have constantly been expanding my knowledge base since I was a teen.
I’ve been smoking daily for about the last 20 years. I’m a software engineer and work at an expert level. I have zero problems learning new or complex information. I also have a ton of hobbies that I’ve mastered like growing my own cannabis, snowboarding, long boarding, and off-roading.
If anything constant use has amplified my ability to focus on a task and take it to the deepest level of understanding. Not to mention expanded creativity.
I agree, when you understand how to use cannabis properly, you can use it to enhance your learning ability. For example, when I’m doing research for articles – I’m typically baked and listening to some good music. However, when I start writing, I’m usually sober and only take 1-2 tokes during a 5-6 hour set of writing. This helps me relax my shoulders, ignore the pain in the ass of sitting so much and reminds me to stand up, do a few yoga stretches, and get back to work. When I’m overworked and stressed, I can take a few power tokes, lay back and allow my mind to wander. It’s a diverse plant with diverse applications, but if you’re just thinking that you’re gonna get stoned all the time – you’re doing it wrong.
These studies don’t really take into account the other factors in a participants life that may contribute to reduced cognitive function and drug dependency. Stress, trauma, finances etc. Basically they only show correlation, NOT causation. Which is why you find plenty of recreational users of cannabis and alcohol who live healthy lives. Just chances are if you’re a heavy drinker/smoker you have other problems, but not always.
I just said this, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one. Our cognition can be impacted by something as simple as a toothache. Typically, the people who abuse cannabis are doing it as a means of escaping their anxiety or depression caused by some other externality (or internal narrative).
Yeah I’ve been smoking daily since I was 25 and I’m a plant manager at the largest extraction facility in southeast Asia. GMP pics and about a million other ISO qualifications later and I could write 20 books on the subject. The folks I went to high school with who have never touched the stuff though think presidents control gas prices.
There are many successful professionals who smoke weed. The fact of the matter is that in all likeliness the person who designed your software, or created your favorite song – were high at some point during the process. Remaining stagnant in your education is a choice…there are sites like Udemy, Coursera, etc where you can learn new shit for free. Hell, I’m about to start studying BioGeometry simply because it’s interesting.
The GrumpMonk says;
I’ve been smoking weed like a maniac since I was 15. Im 38 and I still smoke a ton of weed.
I work in Animation and developed a 2d/3d animation pipeline using Unreal. This pipeline has set me up with a great career in animation. Cannabis doesn’t interfere in the slightest.
Go check out Crooked City Studios work or Solis Animation. Both use my unreal pipeline! Im a lucky fucker who gets to remain high!
For creative jobs like this, weed is a godsend. I’m lucky I can smoke weed, write about it, and make a living doing the things I like. There are millions of other people just like GrumpMonk who’s at the top of their game, industry leaders – who get baked every day.
Sticky Bottom Line
Of course weed isn’t a cureall or a super plant that gives you magical abilities. However, it’s also not the Satan spawn that these researchers make it out to be. The fact of the matter is that there are millions of people who smoke cannabis chronically and still are high performing individuals. And yes, there are those who do not fare well with cannabis, but that is true of every single drug on the planet and is more related to the person than the substance.
I’d like to see a world where we focus more on the positive potential of cannabis, than trying to scare people from exercising their right to ingest whatever the hell they want.
Bottom line – cannabis does not really impact your cognitive abilities…that’s on you. And if cannabis does impact your cognitive abilities – then stop smoking, and rather start taking tinctures and you’ll notice the “fog” disappear.
CANNABIS STUDIES, READ ON…
HOW IS PAYING FOR ALL THESE DUMB CANNABIS STUDIES? YOU ARE!