It's quite interesting to see how the evidence is slowly starting to grow in support of marijuana as a product which can actually contribute positive things to people's lifestyles and even improve intellect as opposed to destroying it, contrary to what the traditional lazy stoner persona would want you to believe.
On the cover of the Globe and Mail today was this story
on a new research study that was conducted on the benefits of THC and cannabinoids. We know that the body naturally produces equivalent substances to cannabinoids which trigger specific receptors in the brain, but we're not entirely sure what their role is. Certainly we know that some of them stimulate appetite and other desires. This study proves something new and very interesting. Contrary to what was thought before, it appears that these cannabinoids (and THC in particular, the one which gets you "stoned") actually help in the creation of brain cells as opposed to their destruction, specifically in the area of the brain that deals with learning and memory.Here
is another new study which was recently published. At Carleton university, they've just completed a long-term study of the affects of marijuana use on the brain and the changes in IQ that it might cause. They regularily tested a group of individuals through the course of their life up until now (they are between 17-20 years old). Some were non-users, others were light smokers (less than 5 joints per week), some were high users (5+ joints) and some were previous users who had now quit.
The most interesting finding is as follows. The group who were light users saw the largest increase in their IQ through the course of their life. Here are the results in order.
1. Light users
2. Previous users
4. Heavy users (there was a slight decline over the years)
Now, we have to consider a certain factor. It is a known fact that THC also temporarily inhibits certain memory functions while under the influence. These effects are, however, permanent. While all the subjects were tested in the morning, the researchers concluded that the heavy users were adversely affected by the fact that they still had a considerable amount of THC in their bodies (even though they hadn't smoked in the few hours before the test). They concluded based on their research that there are no negative long-term memory problems associated with marijuana.
I looked at the raw data on the different groups studied in this research, and while not explicitly reported, there are several other findings which I can conclude based on this data.
1. The parents of light users are also the ones who are the best educated, and have the highest family income of the groups. There is a $10,000 income gap over the next closest group, in comparison. The majority of their parents have a university/college education.
2. A much higher percentage of the so-called heavy users are male. They also smoke more cigarettes than any of the other groups.
3. The light smoker group is not only the one with the highest increase in IQ, but also with the highest overall average IQ.
There are some very interesting things in these new studies. I think it's important to continue researching in this area as we still know very little about concrete long term effects of this drug. It's already being used to curb nausea, decrease pain in people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, and other health issues, etc.
I think many benefits have already been proven, but many others have not. Personally, I have seen many benefits which I cannot begin to fully vocalize. I think weed can help on many mental levels. It seems to unlock certain features of the brain, in some way. For example, abstract concepts appear to be easier to understand and relate to when you've smoked weed before in a responsible and productive manner. Our science isn't advanced enough to understand the actual physics behind something like this, but my hopes are that one day it can be quantitized. Maybe it's just me, though. I'd actually like to hear other people's comments on the benefits (or downsides) that weed has had on them and their general thoughts on social/psychological aspects of the drug.