Carl Sagan is one of my all-time heroes. He was a giant of the scientific community and a great thinker that dared us to dream, to push the limits of our knowledge. I was so bummed when he passed away in 1996, but even in death he enriched lives, as his use of cannabis became revealed. He became the ultimate trump card when someone told you that using cannabis made you stupid, we could always point to Carl Sagan as proof that they were just spouting Reefer Madness nonsense.
You never know when Reefer Madness nonsense is going to rear its ugly head. The myth that cannabis lowers your IQ made it into the news recently, coming to light during a totally unrelated political debate that I don’t need to delve into here. Of course, leading cannabis law reform advocates were quick to counter the madness as Marijuana Moment reported:
“Trump’s remarks simply reveal that he is out of touch, given that the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization for both medical and adult use,” Sheila Vakharia of the Drug Policy Alliance said. “This type of rhetoric is fear-mongering and inflammatory.”
“The evidence is clear from the dozens of states that have legalized medical and adult use—the sky isn’t falling and the kids are alright,” she said.
Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, said that “what truly causes a decline in an individual’s intelligence is adhering to false Reefer Madness rhetoric that flies in the face of available science.”
If you hear someone spouting the Reefer Madness nonsense about cannabis making you dumb, the shorthand response can always be to refer to Carl Sagan, but if you really want to honor Sagan, you can point to the science. The most comprehensive study to date found no link between cannabis use and a decrease in IQ, as ScienceAlert covered:
The largest ever longitudinal twin study involving more than 3,000 adolescents from around the world has found little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline.
The study analysed the results of two separate studies that traced the lives of American adolescent twins over a decade, and both found that teens who engaged in regular marijuana use lost no more IQ points over time than their non-using twin siblings.
It’s telling that Reefer Madness prohibitionists have to rely upon lies and propaganda to bolster their position that cannabis should remain illegal. Like Carl Sagan, we just have to seek out and promote the truth. In the end, the truth shall set us all free.