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'Smoking marijuana is damaging teens’ intelligence'

FINDINGS: 'Smoking Marijuana is damaging teens’ intelligence'

PEOPLE WHO smoke marijuana early have a greater risk of damaging their intelligence, a study has suggested.

Researchers who tracked 1000 people from their births in 1972 and 1973 to the age of 38 found that 38-year-olds who started smoking ganja under age 18 saw slippage in their intelligence.

They scored lower on tests on reasoning, attention and memory than those who have never taken ganja.

Researchers said the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, showed "toxic effects of cannabis on the brain", especially on still developing teenage brains.

"Collectively, these findings are consistent with speculations that cannabis use in adolescence, when the brain is undergoing critical development, may have neurotoxic effects," the authors told the Los Angeles Times.

The study tracked a group of 1,037 children born in New Zealand in 1972 and 1973. They were extensively tested when young, again at age 13, before any started smoking ganja, and then again at age 38.

At ages 18, 21, 26 and 32, researchers also asked about their use of drugs, including marijuana and classified them along a spectrum that ranged from a few times per week to being cannabis dependent.

Their neuropsychological functioning, assessed through psychological tests, was compared with people who had never used cannabis.

The study recorded that habitual drug users who started from as young as 13 had seen their brainpower drop by eight points on average.

Authors of the study, on people in Dunedin, New Zealand, came from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and Duke University and North Carolina in the United States.

“Marijuana is not harmless, particularly for adolescents,” said Madeline Meier from Duke told The Guardian. “Somebody who loses eight IQ points as an adolescent may be disadvantaged compared to their same-age peers for years to come.”

“The simple message is that substance use is not healthy for kids,” Avshalom Caspi, of Duke and King’s told The Guardian. “That’s true for tobacco, alcohol, and apparently for cannabis.”

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