Does This Harvard Study Show Marijuana Smokers were Born Stupid?

“Wer out of weed” proclaimed this newly painted addition to a Humboldt Co. Freeway sign yesterday afternoon.  The misspelling and the arrow pointing right to where the graffiti artists’ backpacks sat indicates a certain lack of awareness in the illegality of their behavior (these folk don’t seem to be the sharpest knives in the drawer) and yet…

And yet…the latest in Marijuana science shows that…pot doesn’t make you stupid. The August issue of Wired magazine states emphatically,

The adverse impacts of cannabis use on cognitive functions either appear to be related to pre-existing factors or are reversible in this community cohort even after potentially extended periods of use.

See.  Marijuana doesn’t make smokers stupid.  Just stupid people smoke marij….Wait a minute…Are those researchers saying that marijuana smokers are already stupid before they begin smoking? Hey!

Seriously, though

This study builds on previous work by Harvard researchers demonstrating that the learning and memory impairments of heavy marijuana users typically vanish within 28 days of “smoking cessation.” (The slight impairments still existed, however, one week after smoking.) While several days might sound like a long hippocampal hangover, heavy alcohol users typically experience deficits that persist for several months, if not years. In other words, heavy marijuana use appears to be a lot less damaging than alcoholism.

…Furthermore, there’s some intriguing evidence that marijuana can actually improve performance on some mental tests. A recent paper by scientists at University College, London looked at a phenomenon called semantic priming. This occurs when the activation of one word allows us to react more quickly to related words. For instance, the word “dog” might lead to decreased reaction times for “cat,” “pet” and “Lassie,” but won’t alter how quickly we react to “chair.”

Interestingly, the scientists found that marijuana seems to induce a state of hyper-priming, in which the reach of semantic priming extends to distantly related concepts. As a result, we hear “dog” and think of nouns that, in more sober circumstances, would seem rather disconnected, such as “leash” or “hair.” This state of hyper-priming helps explain why cannabis has been so often used as a creative fuel, as it seems to make the brain better at detecting those remote associations that lead to radically new ideas.

I can’t look at that sign without picturing somebody saying, “Hey, dude, we’re out of weed.”  And his friend in a creative burst fueled by his last deep inhale  from the crumbs in the bottom of his can replying, “No prob, we’re in Humboldt, man.  We’ll paint a little sign asking for some and, next thing we know, we’ll be rolling a killer smoke.”  And you know, Humboldt being Humboldt, the dude is probably right….

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35 comments

  • Perhaps the sign-writers were used to texting. You know, “We r out of weed”.

  • Perhaps the sign-writers were used to texting. You know, “We r out of weed”.

  • If the pot smokers from my time in the HSU dorms are any indication… some of them didn’t survive the first semester, with Mom and Dad refusing to continue to pay for failing grades. Most of the remainder didn’t return after the first year. Each year it was the same story. Near as I can tell, they were all pot smokers before they came to HSU. There is a clear delineation in the dorms between smokers and non-smokers, with the non-smokers resenting so many smokers being placed in non-smoking dorms. Meanwhile, the administration was lenient, not doing anything unless pot was out in the open. I heard one officer tell students to go smoke in the forest, before he let them off the hook.

  • If the pot smokers from my time in the HSU dorms are any indication… some of them didn’t survive the first semester, with Mom and Dad refusing to continue to pay for failing grades. Most of the remainder didn’t return after the first year. Each year it was the same story. Near as I can tell, they were all pot smokers before they came to HSU. There is a clear delineation in the dorms between smokers and non-smokers, with the non-smokers resenting so many smokers being placed in non-smoking dorms. Meanwhile, the administration was lenient, not doing anything unless pot was out in the open. I heard one officer tell students to go smoke in the forest, before he let them off the hook.

  • I’m hoping that Jackie is right.

  • I’m hoping that Jackie is right.

  • Too hilarious. Only in Garberville.

  • I agree with Jackie’s theory. Great sign, smart people. Very likely met some other smart people who weren’t too parochial to balk at their inventive communication –and they got what they needed. That’s intelligent use of resources and time. What I like best about it is the little piece of true history told by the creative piece of signage remaining in their wake.

  • I agree with Jackie’s theory. Great sign, smart people. Very likely met some other smart people who weren’t too parochial to balk at their inventive communication –and they got what they needed. That’s intelligent use of resources and time. What I like best about it is the little piece of true history told by the creative piece of signage remaining in their wake.

  • Pingback: “Wer out of weed –>” « One Good Year

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  • There’s one important qualifier not discussed in this blog post regarding this study. It refers to people ages 20 to 24. What is NOT addressed is whether it adversely affects juveniles, an incredibly serious question because there is scientific evidence that it can have harmful effects on cognitive effects…for life. Frankly, I don’t need a study to illustrate this conclusion. I need only look at members of my family, and close friends, some of whom starting smoking weed in their early teens decades ago. It seems evident to me that this early habit had some seriously bad affects for them.

  • There’s one important qualifier not discussed in this blog post regarding this study. It refers to people ages 20 to 24. What is NOT addressed is whether it adversely affects juveniles, an incredibly serious question because there is scientific evidence that it can have harmful effects on cognitive effects…for life. Frankly, I don’t need a study to illustrate this conclusion. I need only look at members of my family, and close friends, some of whom starting smoking weed in their early teens decades ago. It seems evident to me that this early habit had some seriously bad affects for them.

  • To be fair, that would be how a text message might read. We r out of weed. “r” being a shortened form of . . . . well, you get the picture. Maybe they just neglected to include enough “space”.

  • To be fair, that would be how a text message might read. We r out of weed. “r” being a shortened form of . . . . well, you get the picture. Maybe they just neglected to include enough “space”.

  • Obviously they weren’t aware that there is a 1,000 dollar fine for lettering along the highway despite the multitude of signs warning us all to resist throwing our letters onto public property.

  • Obviously they weren’t aware that there is a 1,000 dollar fine for lettering along the highway despite the multitude of signs warning us all to resist throwing our letters onto public property.

  • A good example of letteral thinking.

  • A good example of letteral thinking.

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