Marijuana smokers ‘lose IQ points,’ Trump says in leaked audio. What does science say?

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Newly released audio from 2018 appears to show U.S. President Donald Trump comment on supposed adverse affects of using marijuana.

The audio was released by the attorney of Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

As reported by Reuters: “Parnas, a Florida businessman, has been providing evidence to Democrats now pushing for Trump’s ouster at his impeachment trial in the Senate. He played a key role in Giuliani’s effort to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine for Trump. He is now under indictment for campaign finance violations in a separate criminal case.”

The leaked audio also made headlines for Trump calling to “get rid of” then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who later testified in U.S. House impeachment hearings.

In the same dinner conversation, the topic of marijuana legalization was brought up and Parnas told the president that legal marijuana is “the future, no matter how you look at it.”

Trump disagreed with the suggestion and mentioned statistics from Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.

“In Colorado they have more accidents,” Trump is heard saying in the leaked audio. “It does cause an IQ problem. You lose IQ points.”

Audio of the marijuana conversation begins at 45:30 in the video released by Parnas’ attorney. Trump is not seen in the clip, but numerous national outlets have confirmed Trump’s attendance at the dinner, including Forbes, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Trump has not openly supported marijuana legalization but has not objected to U.S. states legalizing it.

Responding to Trump’s comment about marijuana use decreasing one’s intelligence, his oldest son responded by saying “alcohol does much more damage,” the audio appears to show.

“You don’t see people beating their wives on marijuana,” Donald Trump Jr. said. “It’s just different.”

Does marijuana use really decrease IQ?

There are numerous studies that show it does not, including one by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a federal government agency.

The NIDA said recent studies do not show a relationship between marijuana use and IQ loss.

“Those (in the study) who used marijuana did show a significant decline in verbal ability and in general knowledge between the preteen years and late adolescence/early adulthood,” the NIDA said. “However, at the start of the study, those who would use in the future already had lower scores on these measures than those who would not use in the future.”

Additional studies by other agencies have backed the NIDA’s stance. Trump’s comment was called “silly” by Peter Marcus, communications director for Colorado-based cannabis company Terrapin Care Station, but he told the Colorado Springs Gazette to not read too much in to the president’s remark.

“The president has overall been willing to engage with stakeholders on finding practical approaches to addressing legalization as it expands nationally,” he told the Gazette.

Other studies, including one by the Lawson Health Research Institute in Canada, dispute the NIDA’s findings, however.

“Marijuana does not correct the brain abnormalities or symptoms of depression and using it from an early age may have an abnormal effect not only on brain function, but also on IQ,” Dr. Elizabeth Osuch said in the study. And a 2012 study from New Zealand found that “persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife.”

A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that road accident deaths in Colorado and Washington were unchanged in the three years that followed recreational marijuana legalization. But another study — this one from researchers at McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard University — found that smoking a lot of marijuana can make you a worse driver, even when you’re not high, adding to the list of contradictory studies on the effects of marijuana.

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