Smart Girls Doing “Stupid” Things, Like Drugs

feature image via oliviagilywatkins.tumblr.com

Despite what you saw in all those Kevin Smith movies, smoking weed, in fact, is apparently an inherent effect of being super smart. Well okay not really. Not really at all. But! Some smart people are doing it. Specifically, “high-IQ ladies [a]re twice as likely to smoke weed and do coke as other women.”

That finding comes from Britain, where research on the topic was published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The study involved just under 8,000 participants, and looked at lifetime drug use, socioeconomic factors, and educational attainment. Participants’ IQ scores were measured at the ages of 5, 10, 16, and 30. They were then surveyed about drug use at 16 and 30 as well. Drugs accounted for in the research included cannabis, cocaine, uppers, downers, acid, and heroin.

And, in the end, all the smarties were toking up:

[Women with high IQs] were more than twice as likely to have used cannabis and cocaine as those with low IQ scores.

The same associations emerged between a high IQ score at the age of 10 and subsequent use of cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, multiple drug use and cocaine, although this last association was only evident at the age of 30.

The findings held true, irrespective of anxiety/depression during adolescence, parental social class, and lifetime household income.

Before we go on let’s be clear — we’re not endorsing using drugs or saying drugs are a sign of intelligence. Especially cocaine, uppers, downers, acid and heroin, we are not endorsing those. ESPECIALLY heroin. That being said, we do think that when you look at everything else that’s legal in this country, it’s silly that cannabis isn’t. And whereas I’m about to talk about my familiar experiences with weed, I want to make it clear that my experience isn’t everybody’s experience, and there are plenty of reasons why weed sucks, too.

Any smart stoner will understand what it’s like to hide an affinity for weed from friends, family, and colleagues. When she wanted to write her undergraduate thesis on women drug dealers everyone rolled their eyes. When she wanted to craft a theory linking drug legalization and personal autonomy to feminism, people shot her down. Her friends who don’t smoke make jokes about her slowly disappearing brain power and her forgetfulness.

Maybe you’re like “a girl I know” who learned how to smoke weed sitting at the end of a full bed in an off-campus apartment with her best friend, and then started smoking pretty consistently with people she met in her honors program residence hall on-campus. Maybe, for a while, she and her best friends would smoke and talk politics, post-modernism, and Chinese take out. Or pizza. Maybe she even once passed nine blunts around her living room while rapping “Pussy Money Weed” by Lil Wayne to 300 strangers ….and then aced her finals. Maybe she’s a really, really smart stoner.

The thing is, maybe you’re reading this because you smoke weed, and maybe you don’t feel as dumb for it as people say you are. In fact, maybe you’re pretty smart. Does it feel validating to know that science hasn’t confirmed that the stupid thing you’re doing is actually stupid after all?

 

In related news, is anyone else thinking “Natalie Portman Rap” right now?

One of the questions now is, of course, why:

The study authors weren’t sure why people with high IQs were more likely to get high. They cited earlier research showing that smart people are “open to experiences and keen on novelty and stimulation.” They also noted that kids with high IQs might be more likely to be bored or bullied at school, “either of which could conceivably increase vulnerability to using drugs as an avoidant coping strategy.” 

In short, smart people smoke weed because they like the way it feels, and can make being smart feel even better — isn’t that part of why smart people are so drawn to “novelty and stimulation?” On the other hand, maybe it’s also easier for smart people to get high without consequences because of their intelligence, or less likely to get caught up in drugs lest it curb their ambitions and career progression.

It’s like that time she studied for her test high as fuck and you got an A+ anyway. The time she did write an entire semester’s worth of projects while smoking Jack Herer in the bushes behind campus. Remember when you wrote an entire book of poems stoned that you still cry when you read? It’s like you’re a new kind of leader or something. A great mind. You’re like Jack Kerouac, or some other great dude who got fucked up and got away with it. Some women are smoking weed and not just getting away with it, but excelling.

The idea that some smart people do smoke weed is important. We found out last month that for the first time a majority of Americans. Maybe the government will stop lying about stoners, jailing high school drug dealers instead of, oh, I dunno, real criminals, spending tons of dough on a “drug war” and finally make weed legal if we can convince the nation that every stoner is not Beavis or Butthead, or worse, a violent criminal a la Reefer Madness. Which is why studies like this one are important in the first place — so much of the money and time spent on our “drug war” is based on imaginary fears and assumptions about drug use and the people who partake in it that having the actual information be public is always a good thing.

So yeah, maybe you smoke weed with your girlfriend and maybe you once insisted that “the only thing better than getting high and having sex is getting high and having sex.” Maybe you like to smoke and smoke and then cuddle and cuddle. Maybe you exhale into your dog’s ears until he yawns. Maybe you like to get stoned and be driven around listening to Drake. Maybe you got high to write a marketing paper and now it gets passed out to every class since as a “great example.” Maybe smoking weed is a one hundred percent fool proof way to make it possible for you to laugh with your best friend about how awkward it is that you’re hooking up.

Maybe you’re just super, super smart.

Maybe you’re just lifted.

All photos courtesy of wearehomomafia.tumblr.com and my alter rap ego, Lil C.

Profile photo of Carmen

Carmen is the Feminism and Straddleverse Editor at Autostraddle, meaning she helps expand your mind and your queer girl clique. She's mother to the most adorable dog on Earth and hates paying more than one dollar for a good slice of pizza. At times, she self-identifies as "the baddest bitch." You should follow her on Twitter and Tumblr because it makes her feel good about herself when people do.

Carmen has written 597 articles for us.

95 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    I don’t know why such a correlation exists, but I don’t think pot makes people dumb, contrary to popular interpretation. It just, uh, can make you sort of absent-minded and airheaded. During my hazy pothead days, I wasn’t any less smart or did any worse in school. But I can’t tell you have many times I lost my keys or forgot why I went into a room. After a week or two without smoking pot, I definitely felt myself become more alert. It’s a very discernible effect habitual pot smoking has.

    As for other drugs, I don’t know why people would want to do drugs like cocaine or ecstasy. There was a period where I was bored and didn’t care about myself in high school where I would’ve done thise drugs and I’m really lucky that the kids in my social circle didn’t do those kinds of things. Now I’m an adult who’s happy with my life and have too much to lose — there’s no way I’d bother trying those drugs now and I’m glad I never did or I might not be here. And trying heroin at any point seems akin to basically giving up on your life. Just don’t do drugs, kids. Stop at pot.

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      “As for other drugs, I don’t know why people would want to do drugs like cocaine or ecstasy. ”

      There are many reasons, a lot of which have to do with staying up extended periods of time or electronic music. I’m dead serious about the electronic music bit. Sadly, it seems like rave culture and ecstasy go hand in hand.

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        “As for other drugs, I don’t know why people would want to do drugs like cocaine or ecstasy.”

        i have done all the other drugs except for heroin and meth, and i think the reason was “curiosity” and “a desire to experience all the feelings” and “it was there” and “a desire to get out of my own fucking head that constantly drives me crazy for one sweet minute/hour/night/day’? this probably sounds suspect but honestly i don’t think i would’ve done any of the drugs (besides weed) if i wasn’t a writer, it just seemed like a valuable experience to have. and i don’t regret it, any of it, though at this point in my life i’d never do any of those drugs again. AND I’M A GENIUS

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          I think I should’ve clarified… there are obviously reasons. I mentioned being bored, unhappy and willing in high school. I was also curious — but my curiosity was uninhibited by fact that I didn’t care what happened to me. I’m still curious what certain drugs feel like, but not enough to actually do it. It’s kind of like being curious duck confit tastes like — who cares? (I am curious, but a vegetarian, so it’s not worth it.)

          What I really meant is I can’t think of many (or any) good reasons to want to do these drugs. There are reasons, but not great ones, in my opinion. If you’re bored or unhappy, set a goal and challenge yourself to accomplish something that will make you feel good about when it’s over. I feel like drugs can be a bit of a cop-out. But it took me some time and growing up to realize that.

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            Totally agree with you there. I’m wary of sound self-righteous when I explain that I can’t see any good reason to do drugs. Other people may want to do them, and get an experience from them that adds to their life, I don’t but it doesn’t mean I disagree with other people using them. Live and let live, and all that.

            I just have so much STUFF I need to get done in life, and all that stuff gives me a hell of a buzz. I don’t like to interrupt it with chemical substances that alter my mood and get in the way. I feel like it would take away from my experience, not add to it, if you know what i mean?

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            Yeah, I know it sounds a little haughty to say I have too much shit going for me to do drugs, and I don’t mean it like that, but… yeah, I’m right there with you. For the record, I have friends on the spectrum of on one side, never even having smoked weed, to the other side, having habitually done cocaine or ecstasy. Honestly, I do judge both groups a bit.

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          Ah! I totally understand this! One of the main reasons I wanted to (and did) go through giving birth without pain relief is because a character in the thing I was writing was doing so, and I wanted to be sure to get the description right. I didn’t admit my reason for years though, because I knew people would think it was a crazy reason.

  2. Thumb up 0

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    I have no issues with legalizing weed and/or smoking it, but im not really interested in trying it…smoking things is just not for me. And also I’d dislike to hear girls being like “smart people smoke weed!” as their reasoning… it’s the new “smoking makes you skinny!” and I’d totally judge someone who said that to me outside of debating the topic in a serious manner.

    And also saying acid is bad is kinda overdoing it…research especially with LSD and shrooms make it look angelic in comparison to marijuana, even. Now theres a drug I’d try out of curiosity.

    tldr, smoke up cause you want to, not cause you need to and definitely not because “its for smart people”

  3. Pingback: Children With High IQ at Increased Risk for Later Drug Use – Medscape « News « Psychoactivity

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    I cannot believe the relevancy to my interests this post has. I wrote my Senior Paper (high school, not college, folks) high as fuck, and it made it through two rounds of peer editing and a panel of judges without one correction, and is now, like that one girl’s marketing paper, being passed around as an example of a perfect Senior Paper.

    From this pattern, I infer that the reason I am having so much trouble writing in college is because I am broke, and therefore without weed.

  5. Thumb up 0

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    “Maybe you exhale into your dog’s ears until he yawns.”

    Uhm, no. Please don’t even indirectly advocate that behavior, because that’s a shitty thing to do. You can get high with your own consent, fine and dandy, but purposely getting animals high? Not cool.

    Otherwise, a fine article.

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    Ok – so I’m going to be the nerd that says: smoking is bad for you guys. No kidding, it fucks up your lungs. I got stoned everyday for more than three years, and I thought: this shit is fixing everything. Then I quit (because marijuana can lower your libido and i was having relationship drama). I never ever looked back. Life is so much fucking better without the weed. Sex is so much better without the weed. I’ve never met anyone who functioned their best while high (and I know ALOT of stoners). While I think marijuana should be more legal than alcohol at least, I don’t think we should be glorifying something that seriously fucks with people’s mental health.

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      The option to eat pot in brownies or other high fat foods is a heathier alternative though. They serve it like that in cafe’s in Amsterdam.

      (I don’t do pot because of mental health concerns but I know a lot of stoners)

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        I am not endorsing commiting illegal acts. But I do want pot legalised and placed under government quality controls for the safety of users and also so that the sales tax will go back into the economy.

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      Anything in excess will fuck with your mental health. Alcoholism, binge eating, chronic pain killer use.. But perhaps it might be wise to think about what caused you to overuse your drug of choice in the first place?

      It’s easier to blame an outside force than to look inside yourself for the real cause. We’re all guilty of that. Shit gets dangerous when the correlation between drug use and mental health decline are used to support laws that came about through private financial interest and are still endorsed for similar reasons.

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        “But perhaps it might be wise to think about what caused you to overuse your drug of choice in the first place?”

        Well, something like alcoholism is at least to some degree genetic, and with serious alcoholics there really is no way to be a casual drinker. If they have one drop, they cannot stop, and it isn’t necessarily a reflection on their personal lives as it is the shitty genes they were dealt.

        But otherwise, I agree with you. Overusing anything, including pot, will wreck your life, but I don’t see how casual use hurts.

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    This article was wonderful.
    I function just fine. I don’t endorse anyone else’s smoking but my own, but the social stigma for marijuana is absurd and unnecessary.

    Sometimes you have to do some things to get by and being a qwoc who always feels like I have to be fighting some battle, I cherish the moments that I’m either meditating or high.

    Reprieve is welcomed in this sense.

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    I can see how this can be helpful to students. School work stresses me out soo much, being able to get high to help me calm down and sort my thought would be awesome.
    But it’s difficult for me to get high, and there are 2 sure ways but they usually get me way too high. Like having a sleepover ata 24hr Subway with my friends because I felt to heavy to drive…

  9. Thumb up 0

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    Damnit I miss pot. I’ll have to disagree though, IQ isn’t a reliable measure of intelligence. And I along with my stoner friends who walk into glass doors and could somehow be convinced that a pack of tampons could be used as a cooking apparatus prove otherwise.

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    I think it’s cool that weed’s getting pulled out of the silly stereotype of being a stupid drug for stupid people that makes them stupid. That’s really cool.

    But those other drugs mentioned? Not so cool. And I have this theory about why high-IQ kids seem to be drawn to drugs, especially those harder ones. I knew some people in high school that I think you could call “geniuses”. They were pretty damn smart anyway. Too smart. Like the kind of smart where they can’t really handle it, where their brains are working overtime all the time and they just. can’t. take it. And all of them starting hitting drugs pretty heavily our senior year, and I don’t mean pot. It was really horrible because I KNEW THEM and I like them and respected them, and here they were killing themselves because they couldn’t handle reality any other way. Anyway. I’ve talked to other friends and this seems to really be a thing. We all knew “genius” kids in high school who got into heavy drugs and kind of dropped out of things.

    So not to be too depressing, and I do think it’s good that people are having to realise who exactly smokes pot, anyway, but I just had to talk about a possibility of why high-IQ kids tend to favor drugs, esp the harder ones.

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      That was definitely my experience of people doing weed. (I went to a private school for the gifted). A lot of the stoners were people too smart for their own good, and the rest were kids who had workaholic parents who ignored them (there was some overlap between groups). Hell, I didn’t do weed because I had respitory problems and was also a vocalist and also had a morbid fear of getting arrested and Ruining My Life. (Now I wouldn’t do it even in places where its legal because of mental health issues, so it goes). But there were times, especially when I was trying to sleep and couldn’t because I could not shut my brain off, where I would have done almost anything to make it stop. And a lot of my friends were high all the time. One of them smoked so much he ended up doing two A levels instead of four because he could nolonger concentrate on anything other than numbers, and he had to get high before his exams in order to be able to focus at all. Most of the others were fine, it was their non pot related life issues where they weren’t fine.

      I really wish there was more pastoral care aimed at high IQ kids, but then I wish that about kids in general.

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    It bothers me how often people complain about the double standard that society uses against weed, and then turn around and do the same thing to “hard” drugs. I’ve tried a handful of drugs, a lot of them multiple times. The ones that have the worst affect on me are caffeine and weed. Both of those drugs really fuck me up, and I’ve given them enough chances to know that I need to avoid them. So I hate it when people are like “weed isn’t bad like those other drugs!” when for me it is terrible while things like speed and psychedelics tend to have a pretty positive effect on me.

  14. Pingback: Smart Girls Doing ?Stupid? Things, Like Drugs – Autostraddle | BLOGGER

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    Yeah I could believe this – during my phd I knew of other people in my research program doing various illegal drugs. I can’t say that it made them work any better, but it didn’t seem to make them work any worse either. I’ve also seen people taking performance-enhancing drugs for exams, again they didn’t do any better than I did, but it didn’t seem to do them harm either.

    I would say that something like weed can be good for people in stressful academic situations (e.g. writing your thesis), to give you a chance to calm-the-fuck-down during the harder times. Personally, I couldn’t smoke weed much because it knocks me out completely, I have no physical tolerance for the stuff – it has the same effect as a hangover, and makes me unable to get any work done.

    In the real (non-academic) world, no one I know who’s working in my field (engineering) would even consider for a second taking any sort of performance-enhancing or other drugs now they’re out there actually doing the job for reals. It would be stupid to do something that could affect your decision making abilities, and impact on the safety of other people. That goes for anything performance-suppressing, like going to work hungover from drinking. Does restrict any beer drinkin to Fridays and Saturdays unfortunately, which is a pain in the ass.

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    Two things:

    + Weed is *not* for everyone. Some people can smoke it and not feel a thing, some people can take one hit and they’re gone, freaking out under the couch (true story). The same drug that can help someone sit down and do two hours of writing can also make an unproductive, lazy asshole out of another (another true story).

    + Weed is for me. I’m not in college any more, but when I used to be, I’d smoke several times a day, go to class, do the reading, write the papers, do all the things. And I had pretty much all A’s. I have ADHD and anxiety, as well as some old skateboarding injuries that still bother me, and it’s basically my wonder drug. I used to pop 10-12 extra-strength painkillers and an Adderall every day, washed down with four cups of coffee to wake my brain up; now I smoke a bowl first thing in the morning and I’m ready for a day of adventure. Kills my headaches/footaches, and helps me get a laser-focus on whatever I’m doing. Thing is, I’m not one of those stoners that likes to sit on the couch all day; smoking is even better when you find ways to be productive. Going to the grocery store becomes an epic journey (especially when the produce talks to you).

    I’ve also done other drugs and the only ones I can say are worth doing are ecstasy (if you have hang-ups or phobias it’s a great drug to work those out on) and psychedelics. But with any substance, you have to be mentally prepared, and you have to know yourself, your limits, and what works with your brain, because everyone is different.

  17. Pingback: Nov. 17: a perfect day to quit smoking | Stop Smoking Electronic Cigarette

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    Man, this makes me feel a fuckload better.

    I’m not trying to be conceited here, but my IQ is relatively high and I’ve been known to indulge in a substance or two. For me, it just comes down to wanting a way to escape. It’s the same as drinking for me. It becomes a way to switch my mind off and just not think about anything important for a while. Drugs are also extremely common in my different crowds of friends, queer and straight, and most of my friends are smart women.

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      “For me, it just comes down to wanting a way to escape.”

      THIS. I’m in graduate school and sometimes all the theories and thoughts I’ve been discussing all day are still ruminating in my mind when it comes time to sleep. I need to escape my busy, noisy mind to go to sleep and weed is the way to do that for me.

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      “For me, it just comes down to wanting a way to escape. It’s the same as drinking for me. It becomes a way to switch my mind off.”

      Me too! Only because I’m jobless, I’ve gotten into meditating to help calm down and turn my brain off. It’s cheaper than weed OR booze!

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    I guess I just don’t fancy glorifying any kind of drug – this includes alcohol and cigarettes-. If people want to do it, great, but I could never justify or defend the use of any of them as anything good, because none of them are.

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    I think it should be legalized, but I still have a very strong distaste and I think it’s because one of my close friends spends most of her time getting high and then proceeding to act like a jackass. It’s like she’s smoking for the first time EVERY TIME. Not like anyone cares I just got tired of trying to explain it to her.

    Anywho, legalize it or whatever.

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    Hello, world!
    Just got stoned and FINALLY signed up on AS. I’ve been reading for so long I’m starting to feel like a voyeur for not getting involved/kind of just stalking my way through the comments section. I’m excited about feeling some sense of queer belonging while I venture out into this crazy new world. I left after college graduation for Ghana, which is, unfortunately, not the most supportive/exciting/homofriendly place to come out in/kiss girls in. Thanks so much for the amazing content you guys post on here from the recaps to the news to the sensitive and often hilarious advice about every question I could possibly have about loving women. I am happy for this to be my first comment ever, and formally suggest an NSFW Sunday gallery of cute girls with pot paraphernalia.

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    To echo Panda Paws and Levi:
    I do want to tease out the problems with relying on a study of IQ to make us feel better about being stoned, considering the fact that IQ science is highly problematic—correlations between low IQs and race have been all too familiar in our societal discussions around intelligence. So then what is the racial makeup of the respondents with high IQs in the study? Because apparently POC have on average lower 1Qs *cough* bullshit *cough*, so how does this implicate, include, or exclude PoC in their drug use/weed use?

    carmen THIS IS ON POINT:
    + i do not think doing drugs is “smart” or “good,” but i find in my own experiences that the stigma against them is quite frankly the stupidest part.
    + i also do not think everyone who does drugs is intelligent, and am aware that many idiots live on this planet

    now that those points have been reviewed,
    tokin’ it up.

  23. Thumb up 0

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    Luna and Carmen FTW.

    Guys, this is in the article. It’s important: “Before we go on let’s be clear — we’re not endorsing using drugs or saying drugs are a sign of intelligence.”

    Human beings (and arguably most living things) are naturally drawn to mind-altering substances. The animalistic side is obviously, well, cuz it feels good (/cool/interesting/whatever). The human-specific side is that we are conscious beings, and altering one’s consciousness is a way to experience/perceive the world in new ways.

    Any sort of drug use is a personal choice. Alcohol is included in this. Because, yknow, alcohol is a drug. There is no inherent value in doing any drug. One cannot say it is “good” or “bad.” There are consequences (as there are to any choice one might make with one’s life/body) and they are what they are. The fact that one such consequence, as it currently exists in our society, can be criminal liability is the main problem most drug-policy activists are concerned with. The other is the stigma that comes as a result of that criminality.

    We’ve come to a point where people can openly joke in the media about getting stoned without real fear of consequences, but it’s interesting (to me) that getting drunk is just seen as fun-loving behavior most “normal” people engage in, while getting high still has an underlying premise of stupidity (/laziness) behind it.

    I think the IQ point is an interesting one with respect to combating the stigma, but it probably won’t make much of a difference w/r/t actually moving towards legalization (not that any scholarly work really has given the political background of marijuana prohibition). And while, as a white, upper-middle-class white girl, it’d be nice to openly talk about smoking weed – it’s the racist, classist implications of the war on drugs that really matter the most.

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    Hmm. All the stoners I know IRL are self-righteous asses who are convinced they’ve found the central wormhole of the universe while high, and that everyone else who prefers to remain sober is inferior.

    Yup, stereotype confirmed. Carry on.

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    Has this come up yet? But perhaps people who consider themselves smart are more likely to self-report their usage of illegal drugs. I’m not really sold on the science of this article. They’re specifically linking IQ at the age of 5 to drug use at 30. I can’t read the whole article, but I’m not really seeing any confidence intervals referenced either.

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    I’m smart, and I just don’t get weed. I like when things happen, and nothing ever seems to happen on weed. It’s a problem. My friends dig it and that’s cool, obviously its subjective – I just find it to be boring and a complete waste of an afternoon/evening.

    Shrooms and acid on the other hand…definitely worthwhile.

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    I think weed affects everyone differently and that there isn’t a right or wrong answer that can be made and applied to all humans. Personally, depending on the intensity, weed always lead to the accomplishment of nothing and texting equivalent to remembering legal minutiae. I use to think and still do to some degree that my pothead roommates make self-fulfilled prophecy of weed’s positive attributes in order to make themselves feel better about wasting all their money on pot and its accessories.

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    I’m gonna be a “smart” person (acknowledging the uselessness/harmfulness of the term when it is used as a value judgment on people rather than a description of a certain social identity or experience)
    …breath…
    So I’m gonna be a “smart” person jumping in here on the side of pot can = some amazing, completely valid and valuable thinking, writing, and conversation. Or can be used as escape. But I don’t use it that way. Mostly makes me really aware of what I’m going through, anyway–in a cathartic way–rather than covering it up.

    And it does emphatically NOT shut my mind off. In fact I’m almost always awake till 2 AM because I can’t stop thinking… and it’s good thinking, as far as it goes. It’s not a way I want to spend my whole life. Then it would be a crutch, and cut me off from just breathing and being here in the essential human way.

    But it’s certainly a valuable experience for me, at certain times.

    My roommate, a family member, tokes up too–moreso than me, in general–and although we’ve always gotten along, while talking together high we often let ourselves get to know each other better and it’s something really good that carries over into sober life. I wish that happened more anyway when we were sober. There are some issues there to address sober, but pot can help keep the goal real as I work toward it. Like, oh, wow, I forgot–I’d talked myself out of believing/knowing life could feel this way. But it can be. It helps remind me so I can appreciate, sober: I’m awake and I have all these options and life is a real, powerful, fun, strong thing that I can touch.

    Alright, I’m wordy, sorry. Sober!
    …whatever *that* means… :)

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