Approximately fifty percent of U.S. citizens use cannabis at some time in their lives, most of which occur during adolescence. Some studies show that marijuana could cause damage to the growing teenage brain, but the real risk is often debated. At the moment, in the first study of its type, researchers have studies long-term cannabis use in teenagers by comparing changes in IQ between twins who either used or did not use cannabis for more than a decade. Once various environmental conditions were considered, the scientists did not find any connection between cannabis use and a drop in IQ.

“This is a very well-conducted study … and a welcome addition to the literature,” Valerie Curran, a psychopharmacologist at the University College London, says. Curran reached the same general conclusions as her colleagues in a different study without twins including 2000 British adolescents. According to her, the results of the experiment were published weeks ago in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. However, indicating that the study has notable restrictions, a psychiatric epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne in Australia, George Patton, says that it in no way shows that marijuana, no matter the type, is innocuous.

Many studies that connect marijuana to events such as memory loss or low IQ only looked at one moment in time, Nicholas Jackson of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, lead author of the new study says. That makes it very difficult to tell whether or not the cognitive issues are a result of marijuana or not.

“It’s a classic chicken-egg scenario,” Jackson says.

To put this into a better perspective, researchers have begun observing large groups of drug users in their teenage years for some time now. The first time this was done, in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 2012 suggested multiple drops in IQ between the ages 13 and 38 in those who smoked extremely often compared to occasional smokers under the age of eighteen.

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