We’ve all seen a wealth of science backing up the medical benefits of pot—mary jane, cannabis, reefer, the devil’s lettuce…if you will—but when, exactly, is it alright to start toking up? And we do mean actually inhaling (cough cough, Bill Clinton).
According to a study recently published by the Cambridge University Press, that magic age is 17. The study demonstrates notable cognitive impairment on those who begin utilizing the—for some reason, still Schedule 1—substance prior to that age. However, once you reach that magic number, that ol’ 1-7, you’re good to go.
Of course, there’s no binary effect, here—no dichotomy. Smoking pot as a kid can have all sorts of social effects, too, and it’s the confluence of cognitive and social effects that can be worrisome.
Per Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at the University of Montreal:
The results of this study suggest that the effects of cannabis use on verbal intelligence are explained not by neurotoxic effects on the brain, but rather by a possible social mechanism… Adolescents who use cannabis are less likely to attend school and graduate, which may then have an impact on the opportunities to further develop verbal intelligence.
So basically, if you’re under 17, maybe skip over that spliff when it’s handed your way. If you’re older, well, puff-puff-pass, my friend.