Much is made of marijuana use and intelligence. A typical stereotype of a cannabis user is that they are stupid, their minds numbed by the evil weed.
There was even a recent study purporting to show a link between marijuana use and poor academic performance. Amanda Reiman of the Drug Policy Alliance took on this study in an op-ed for The Weed Blog.
She points out the myriad of successful marijuana users, but opponents of legalization will always say these are the exception to the rule.
Next she points out something much more damning in the study, something the article linked above leaves out: alcohol use is much more prevalent among college students than marijuana use. In fact, 95% of fourth-year college students reported having tried alcohol, as opposed to 63% for marijuana. So how can poor grades be attributed to marijuana use before alcohol use?
“In the actual report, the conclusions are more nuanced than those in USA Today,” Reiman writes. “The authors of the study conclude that it is “excessive” drinking and substance use that put kids at risk for poor academic performance. The authors report that these issues often begin in high school and could be related to mental health issues.
“The real take home messages from this study? First, adolescents who are drinking and/or using substances (including prescription drugs) excessively while in high school should be paid attention. They could be self-medicating for an undiagnosed mental health issue, or having a tough time socially or academically.”
Reiman then spells out reasons marijuana users could be having trouble finding employment, something alluded to in the USA Today article. “Furthermore, outcomes such as discontinued college education and the inability to find a job after college could very well have more to do with the illicit nature of marijuana and the collateral sanctions associated with its use, then the impact of the psychoactive properties of marijuana.
“Requirements regarding the disclosure of a felony conviction to obtain employment are another barrier that has little to do with the psychoactive effects of marijuana.”
It’s easy to see why the mainstream media is so eager to peddle stereotypes, whether they be about cannabis users or an ethnicity. Stereotypes are simple and familiar and something most people can relate to. But the truth is usually much deeper than that, and it takes some effort to find.
Yet the job of the media is to expose truth. They often fail in this goal, which is why the internet is so important. Information will get out to the public. You can spin it any way you want, but it is still there, staring you in the face. No one can hide from the truth forever.
The bottom line is that marijuana use does not make you stupid. You either are stupid, or you are not.
- Joe Klare