There are a number of myths that come with smoking marijuana, yet there have been very few studies done over the years to determine if there is any validity to the stories being spun. The legalization of marijuana in a growing number of places has revealed that there are more professional types using an herbal vaporizer than the slacker, stoner type of people that many people thought would come crawling out of the woodwork once legalization was put in place. It may have been this trend that prompted researchers in the UK to take a look at another myth: reefer madness.

The thought has long been that using marijuana kills brain cells and makes people’s IQ sink like a stone. This was thought to be particularly true in teenage users, even though no solid statistical data was in place to back up the notion that using a vaporizer or a joint to get high had a negative effect on how the brain functioned over a period of time. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children took 2,235 teenagers from the Bristol area, and studied the effects of the use of marijuana on their IQ.

The teenagers in the study all had their IQ tested at ages 8 and 15. As many as 25% of the teens in the study admitted to trying cannabis at least once, while 3% of the test group admitted to using the drug more than 50 times. The results, which were published in the January 6 online issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that the teenagers who had taken cannabis did in fact have a lower IQ than most, but that is not where the story ends. Those people who would point to that as a result of the harmful effects of marijuana would do well to dig a little deeper into the study results.

The researchers found that cannabis alone could not be blamed for the lower IQ scores in those kids, as there were other factors such as home life, cigarettes, and alcohol use that could all have combined to deliver a bigger impact. The heavier users of marijuana did score lower in IQ, and did have educational issues, but again, the results were not so drastic as to suggest that marijuana usage had a major impact on those areas of their life. In short, the researchers found no evidence to suggest that reefer madness was in fact something to be heavily concerned about.

What you have here is a bit of a chicken and egg type of situation when it comes to marijuana use. It’s impossible to tell if the teenagers in the research study are performing poorly at school because of marijuana, or if they are turning to marijuana because they are performing poorly. The results seem to fall on the side that pro-marijuana users will like, but we still suggest that, like everything, you use your herbal vaporizer in moderation.