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Fuzzy Numbers? Study Finds Pot Lowers Math Scores

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Reuters Health
San Francisco

Future engineers, mathematicians and economists beware. A new study finds that high school students who smoke marijuana are likely to see lower math scores, and ultimately, lower wages, than peers.

Poets and literary types may have less to fear, however.

Scores showed no difference on reading scores between potheads and those who abstained from the weed.

Economist Rosalie Pacula from the public policy group RAND presented her findings at a conference on global health economics in San Francisco this week and detailed her work in an interview on Thursday.

"It makes a lot of sense that it (marijuana) would affect certain types of cognitive functioning, particularly things that are hard to grasp like math," she said.

Her study looked at 6,000 standardized test scores of those who started using marijuana after the 10th grade in 1990 and compared them with results from when students were in the 12th grade in 1992.

Those who started smoking marijuana had 15 percent lower scores in math than non-smokers, but no difference in the reading test, Pacula said. That lower math score could result in a two percent lower salary later in life, her research found.

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