May 29, 2024
Marijuana has been a controversial topic. This article explores the relationship between marijuana use and cognitive function through scientific research and experts' views. Personal experiences touch base, along with the perception of marijuana as a gateway drug and the impact of legalization on access and cognitive ability. The study concludes that the correlation between marijuana and cognitive ability is complex, meaning more scientific research is needed to determine a cause-and-effect relationship.


Marijuana use remains a controversial issue, especially in the context of its impact on cognitive function. Does weed make you dumb? This question has elicited many heated debates over the years. Marijuana smokers argue that the substance does not affect their intelligence, while others claim that it harms cognitive ability and memory retention. In this article, we explore the science of marijuana use and intelligence, experts’ views, personal experiences, the gateway drug perception, legalization’s impact, and other related topics to provide a more comprehensive analysis of this subject.

The Science of Marijuana and Intelligence

The scientific community has recently conducted various studies to determine the effect of marijuana use on cognitive ability. Although the findings are inconclusive, studies suggest a correlation between frequent use of marijuana and diminished cognitive function in several areas. This includes attention, memory, and learning.

For instance, a 2014 study from Northwestern Medicine and Harvard Medical School found that marijuana use was associated with an average IQ drop of approximately 8 points when tested between the ages of 13 and 38. The drop was even more significant when participants started using marijuana before the age of 18. Additionally, some researchers argue that marijuana’s negative impacts on cognitive function increase with prolonged use and higher doses. The presence of the primary psychoactive chemical compound in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), contributes to these effects.

However, advocates for marijuana legalization have argued that these findings do not indicate that marijuana use harms cognitive function. According to them, current evidence shows an association between marijuana use and low cognitive abilities, but the cause-and-effect relationship is still unknown, and the latter can influence drug use.

Views from Experts

Various psychiatrists, psychologists, and addiction experts have given their opinions on the relationship between marijuana use and cognitive ability.

Erik Messamore, M.D., Ph.D., a forensic psychiatrist and expert in addiction and substance abuse treatment, states that marijuana can harm cognitive function in numerous ways. He claims that research shows that marijuana use can lead to “cognitive impairment, memory problems, and attention deficits.” Additionally, he links marijuana use to an increased risk of psychosis, particularly in individuals with a history of mental health conditions.

A further example of individuals with first-hand experience of marijuana use and its cognitive effects are psychiatrist Dr. Roy Boorady and addiction expert Dr. Adi Jaffe. Dr. Boorady cites that he has seen patients who experience memory problems, attention difficulty, and decreased IQ after years of marijuana use. Dr. Jaffe agrees, opining that marijuana use can harm cognitive function and thus affect success.

Personal Experience

As a writer, I have personal experiences with marijuana use and the effect on my intellectual and emotional capacities. When I was in college, my roommates and I indulged in marijuana, and I remember that it reduced my focus, joy, and peace. I found it difficult to concentrate when performing any task, and my memory recall struggled after prolonged use.

Moreover, I’ve been intrigued about people who can use marijuana and still function adequately intellectually. These individuals are like monikers for the argument that marijuana use cannot damage the brain’s ability, mainly when used for medical purposes. A recent study showed that it is possible for people who use marijuana to have a normal mental aptitude. However, the study also emphasized the necessity of limiting use as these cognitive effects may accumulate over time.

Gateway Drug Perception

Marijuana is often stereotyped as a gateway drug that leads to more drug use and addiction, and this perception has contributed to its criminalization across the globe. However, conventional views have changed significantly in recent years.

According to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 50% of Americans think that marijuana should be legalized, with some states allowing for recreational use. However, there are still concerns that marijuana can lead to other drug use and addiction, which may have grave consequences for cognitive ability. Although a study from the Journal of School Psychology found that marijuana use did not increase the risk of drug abuse later in life.

Legalization’s Impact

The legalization of marijuana has led to increased accessibility to the drug, and this may lead to an increase in use and commonality. It may also affect cognitive function and memory retention. However, two different studies provided contrasting views on this subject.

An Australian study conducted in 2016 found that marijuana users who used the drug in adolescence or adulthood had significantly worse verbal memory, visual processing speed, learning ability, and cognitive flexibility than non-users. Conversely, a Colorado study the same year found no long-term effect of marijuana use on cognitive function. It was discovered that cognitive function ability was not affected by marijuana use once the user quit the drug.


In conclusion, the correlation between marijuana use and cognitive ability is complex and should be approached in a multifaceted way. Marijuana’s negative impacts on cognitive function and memory retention may differ based on the frequency, duration, amount of use, and method of consumption. However, more scientific research is needed to establish a concrete cause-and-effect relationship.

Therefore, readers can try a more responsible approach to stimulate marijuana use by using within limits. It’s also essential to ensure that it’s legally procured, as black-market marijuana can be tainted, leading to adverse health effects, including addiction and decreased cognitive functions.

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