Dr. Phil makes wild claims about smoking weed, violence and brain damage

Published Nov 12, 2019 01:00 p.m. ET
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Federal marijuana legalization didn’t change much across Canada, as impaired driving charges, thefts, and violence rates remained on par with the average unaffected by the substance becoming available. While there is no way to confirm the association, some areas saw a decrease in crime rates, proving that cannabis and those who choose to smoke weed really aren’t anything for the general population to be worried about.

Dr. Phil never directly claims that people who smoke weed are violent, but when he describes a young boy who was a guest on the show, due to underage consumption as a “gun-toting” kid, which certainly seemed to imply a connection between violence and cannabis. There were also several other much more direct allegations made, and all during the length of a teaser trailer for an upcoming episode.

The claims

With an obvious bias against marijuana consumption for any reason, Dr. Phil goes on to make claims that include:

1. The brain continues to grow until 25 years of age while comparing those who smoke weed before, then to pouring water inside of a computer until it shorts out.

2. “Even occasional smokers will look at a multi-point drop in IQ.”

3. Dr. Phil highlights a moment of refusing to send a child home who was “obviously self-medicating” and in the same breath tells the child’s parents that he will call CPS if they don’t get him into treatment immediately.

The truth

This is where we will debunk and pick apart all 3 of these horrible lies.

1. There is a lot about human anatomy that we do not yet understand, but the brain has been studied in depth for indicators of maturity, and all research up until this point indicates that the brain is fully developed in most humans by the age of 20.

2. Dr. Phil likes to quote one specific study that appeared to show a decline in IQ among cannabis consumers. The problem is that it didn’t take into account factors that might influence the outcome. In short, researchers took teenagers that were divided into two groups, those who had smoked and those who hadn’t. Then they took the teenagers state-required tests score records from when they were 8 years old and compared them when they were teenagers (13-15).

What they found was an average drop of 2 points in IQ, but what they didn’t record is which ones came from backgrounds that might also contribute to a lowering in test scores such as coming from a low-income household, education quality, or other drug and alcohol consumption. All of which can heavily influence the outcome of such a small study among youth.


When researchers added new numbers to the equation to account for the possible variations in average IQ level, the results showed that teens who smoke weed had no difference or drop in IQ as the initial findings claimed, which means that this widely sensationalized cannabis propaganda has been debunked by some of the worlds greatest minds.

3. If a child is self-medicating, then why is it not possible for an adult to do the same? Also, if the child was medicating, would it not make more sense to find the problem than it does to send a 10-year-old off to rehab? Dr. Phil is consistently contradicting himself and can’t seem to decide whether or not the marijuana plant is or isn’t ever a medicine.

Couples that smoke weed together are less violent

Despite the widely spread myths that the cannabinoid content in cannabis can lead to wild behaviors such as irrational decision making, mood swings, violence and a lower IQ, scientific research available paints a very different picture. In fact, in the most recent studies conducted with couples that smoke weed, rates of violence had decreased, especially when compared to those of alcohol consumers.

Does marijuana kill brain cells?

This is one of the most common questions asked, but one of the strangest to answer truthfully. When a person smoked cannabis or derived products, they inhale smoke which is rich with cannabinoid content but also contains harmful irritants. When smoke is inhaled, it is circulated throughout the body along with oxygen, which can kill some brain cells.

However, human beings have and consistently produce millions of brain cells every day, and there is absolutely no evidence to prove that the few brain cells that might die from inhaling any kind of smoke are enough to lower IQ. As, it would only take hours for those affected cells to regenerate or be replaced, which is why all documented effects from smoking weed appear to be short term.

In conclusion

These days most people get their news from online media sources and television, and it is important to recognize that these programs are not necessarily trustworthy sources. Educational content is a wonderful tool, but it is essential to fact check bold claims and statements before believing them as fact. TV Show hosts and superstars, more often than not, are financially motivated and stirring up drama on such a taboo topic is all that Dr. Phil and others like him are trying to do.

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