Somewhere between 15 and 17 million Americans consume cannabis, the most popular illicit drug in this country.
Studies show increasing use among young people and the general population, as states begin to legalize recreational marijuana, at the same time that we’re discovering more about its dangers, including how teen marijuana use is shown to lower IQ.
It is known that using cannabis increases a person’s heart rate while lowering their blood pressure. Smoking marijuana amps up appetite and lowers memory function. Now a study has shown that using cannabis also affects metabolism and deposits of fatty tissue.
The study tracked 30 cannabis users and compared them to 30 non-users of similar age, sex and body mass index (BMI). All participants were around 25 years of age. Cannabis users self-reported smoking between six and 10 joints per day for an average of 10 years.
The study participants were all asked to keep 24 hour food intake inventories. These inventories were used to evaluate the number of calories consumed as well as the type of calories (fat, protein, carbohydrate, etc.). The results showed that cannabis users and non-users took in roughly the same number of calories each day but that marijuana users tended to consume more calories from fat and carbohydrates. Also, while there was no difference in overall body fat, the cannabis smokers tended to have more intra-abdominal fat.
Other known ill-effects include permanently lowered IQ when cannabis is used during prime periods of brain development. That development takes place during the teen years, a time when many young people feel invulnerable to harm and discount the dangers of cannabis use. A 40-year study in New Zealand has proven that marijuana use during adolescence causes permanent loss of brain potential.
That study followed 1,000 subjects beginning at age 13 at which time they were given an intelligence test. Subjects were tested again at age 38. During the interim, researchers charted cannabis use. The study revealed that using marijuana lowered IQ scores by as much as eight points and the losses were permanent. Key reasoning function develops during the teenage years and evidently the use of marijuana impairs that development in a way that cannot be later repaired.
In addition to increasing fatty deposits and lowering IQ, cannabis use has been linked to increased respiratory problems including lung cancer, lowered immunity, insomnia and an increased risk for serious mental illness such as schizophrenia.