The stereotypical stoner is not the brightest star in the firmament. Shaggy hair enveloped in smoke and bent over the gaming keyboard, the user has no interest in anything else.
But, the image may not be deserved. A PNAS study (2014), led by Drs. Francesca Filbey and Sina Aslan at the University of Texas-Dallas Center for Brain Health, concluded that, while constant use of marijuana alters the structure of the brain, it also appears to improve its connectivity and performance.
But, are there 10 ways cannabis can make you smarter?
The reported research, a rare study on people, found that regular cannabis use will increase the brain’s connectivity as its volume shrinks. It also concluded that prolonged use (3 doses per day) would degrade the brain’s wiring.
The Washington Post points out how the limited number research studies have contradicted each other in methods and conclusions. So, you must ask if this dismisses long held beliefs that cannabis makes you smarter.
1) Health awareness — Light or moderate cannabis use supports your health. Approached the right way, use will make you more aware of health issues. Research has shown correlation between light and moderate cannabis use with weight loss, eating disorders, chronic pain, involuntary muscle spasms, and medical problems.
2) Gateway to sobriety — Cannabis use provides an effective alternative to harder drugs and alcohol. Conscientiously used, cannabis can be a gateway to health for people with dependencies and addictions.
3) Mind expanding — Cannabis will open your mind with a changed look at your emotional states, your environment, and creative potential. There is something positive in experiencing a high in sensory perception that can open your social experience to input from and appreciation for others.
4) Science studies — Use expands your education in the science of the cannabis brain/body chemistry. It teaches you more about the origin, composition, and application of cannabis. And, you learn what and how to optimize the positive effects and reduce the negatives.
5) Politics and the law — Using puts you in a class of advocates who must understand the laws that manage or enable your rights to consumer. It may or may not make you an activist, but sensible cannabis use will put you in touch with political and legal issues.
6) Dismiss distractions — Selecting the right cannabis strain and dosage will dismiss distractions to allow fuller focus on detailed assignments school and work tasks. It may take some trial, error, and advice, but you can find the cannabis appropriate for your needs.
7) Creative artist — The correlation between artists and cannabis use suggests that it contributes to their creativity. Musicians, writers, and painters have a tradition of use, but no research has shown a casual connection. Nonetheless, it does appear to relieve inhibitions, relax tensions, and alter sensory experience. All of these are conditions to better intellectual and creative work.
8) Brain cells — THC may be the culprit in any proven brain damage. CBD, on the other hand, improves cellular neurogenesis, refreshing and multiplying brain cells. And, this may be the essence of its beneficial effects.
9) Sleep better — The CBD affects and facilitates the rejuvenating sleep that contributes to better brain and body health. Sleep refreshes all systems including the extensive endocannabinoid system.
10) Cost conscious — The black market and legal market price cannabis differently. Either way, it can be an expensive habit, expensive enough to make you shop and budget smartly.
Can cannabis make you smarter?
Frankly, the research jury is out. Some research supports the claim dramatically. Some counter the claim. And, until research is free to chase its interests in cannabis, the confusion will continue.
Still, there is much you can infer from what is known. For ages, cannabis has enhanced human experience for the most part. It has been trusted to help people with emotional problems and distracted thinking.
It has facilitated the work of intellectuals, writers, and artists. And, it has proven effective in treating brain-centric problems like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. So, no one questions that cannabis has direct and indirect effects on the brain and body.
That same ages old experience tells us that overuse and misuse risk damage to brain and body systems. When use violates the natural synergy between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system, the use will damage the extensive and complex human brain/body balances.
The science does not fully support claims that use will increase the IQ. There is evidence it may shrink brain mass and, subsequently, increase its connectivity. But, the powers-that-be have not facilitated the research necessary to connect frequency of use, THC: CBD content, and dosage size with incremental changes in the brain.
Complicating the problem presented by the lack of research is uncertainty on how intelligence is measured. Cognition, processing, creativity, comprehension, retention — these are all metrics that lack definition and testing criteria.
So, moderate use of CBD-dominant strains appears to enhance human physical and mental acuity. It relaxes, clarifies, and calms, a positive condition for thought and intellectual work. The regular or frequent use of THC-dominant strains excite psycho-activity. While this can expand intelligent and emotional perception, it may also leave cellular debris. Occasional use or light dosage of the same THC strains may very well invigorate thought processes and alter perception enough to produce the energy needed to pursue intelligent work.
It would, then, seem that occasional to moderate use of cannabis will facilitate the conditions that invite and encourage intellectual activities and growth. At the same time, excessive and prolonged use may damage and disable that potential.