HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Does Rot Your Brain
Pubdate: Tue, 02 Apr 2002
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Helen Branswell, Canadian Press


Study Finds Heavy Use Drives IQ Down

TORONTO -- It seems Hollywood isn't wrong when it portrays stoners as, 
well, dumb.

Heavy marijuana use does seem to drive down the IQ, by an average of four 
points, researchers from Carleton University report in today's issue of the 
Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The good news? The decline appears to right itself if the dope smoker butts 

"A negative effect was not observed among subjects who had previously been 
heavy users but were no longer using the substance," the researchers wrote.

"We conclude that marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on 
global intelligence."

The issue of whether marijuana use has an impact on IQ is a contentious one.

"It's been very controversial," said lead author Peter Fried of Carleton's 
psychology department. "There have been about 50 studies that have looked 
at the issue of if there's a residual effect and it's pretty much 50-50."

Resolving the issue has been tough, he said, because of the difficulty of 
coming up with before and after pictures of each subject's IQ.

About half the studies compared subjects' IQs while under the influence to 
their IQ after several days of enforced abstinence.

But is a few days enough time to ensure the drug has cleared the system and 
all its neurological effects have worn off?

Fried and his colleagues had a neat answer to the problem. Since 1978, they 
have been following a group of children whose mothers - some marijuana 
users, some not - enrolled in the Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study.

These children are now aged 17 to 20.

To study the effect of marijuana on IQ, they studied a subset of 70 young 
adults, comparing current IQ scores to those on file from the subjects' 
pre-teen days.

"We had the unique opportunity, because of our long-term study, to have IQ 
measures on these kids before they ever knew the word marijuana," Fried 
said from Ottawa.

Subjects were asked whether they used the drug and, if they did, whether 
their use was light or heavy. Urine samples were analysed to ensure the 
subjects were being honest about their marijuana use.
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