Study Finds Intelligent Teens Are More Likely to Use Cannabis

Gifted teens are more attracted to cannabis than than their average-performing teen peers, according to a new British study. Scientists looked at 6,000 teens living in the U.K. and monitored tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use and found a correlation between cannabis use and academic ability. 

They found that intelligent pupils are more likely to use cannabis and alcohol than their peers, especially later in their teen years. The evidence suggests that teens who currently experiment with cannabis could be the engineers and doctors of tomorrow.
The teenagers that participated in the study ranged from age 11 to the age of 20. High-achieving young teens and preteens were more likely to abstain from tobacco use than their peers, and marginally more likely to smoke cannabis. But by the time the teens were older, the  high-achieving teens were much more likely to use cannabis occasionally. In addition, older and more intelligent teens were nearly twice as likely to cannabis on a regular basis.  “As for the use of cannabis,” the study’s authors said in a press release. “Clever pupils were 50 percent more likely to use this substance occasionally and nearly twice as likely to use persistently than those who weren’t as clever. Similar patterns were seen for those of average academic ability.”
The researchers attempted to make sense of the results of the study. According to TIME magazine, the researchers found that braininess may be linked to a willingness to try new experiences. One other factor may simply be that brainy teens have more wealthy families and therefore have more money and access to cannabis and alcohol.

The data defies the notion that teens that smoke cannabis are more prone to be lazy and under-achieving. “Our finding that adolescents with high academic ability are less likely to smoke [cigarettes] but more likely to drink alcohol regularly and use cannabis is broadly consistent with the evidence base on adults,” the researchers concluded, adding that the study provides “evidence against the hypothesis that high academic ability is associated with temporary experimentation with substance use.” The study was published by the British medical journal BMJ Open, which covers clinical medicine, public health and epidemiology.

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