Researchers study marijuana smoking and the brain

ResearchersStudyMarijuanaNew research links marijuana smoking with physical alterations of neural structures in the brain, according to a report in The Boston Globe. The study focused on young adults, “raising concerns that young pot-smokers could be permanently damaging their still-developing minds.”

“We’ve known that people who use marijuana when they’re younger tend to have cognitive abnormalities, but this gives us direct evidence,” Stuart Gitlow of the American Society of Addictive Medicine told the Globe. Researchers studied the brains of 40 people ages 18 to 25, twenty of whom smoked about six joints per week and twenty who were non-smokers.

The scans revealed volume, shape and density changes in two key regions of the brain–the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala–that are involved with emotion, motivation and decision-making. The more marijuana that users smoked, the more their brains differed from non-users. Researchers say the changes may be linked to behaviors like lack of focus, reduced ambition and impaired judgment.

The evidence of this research is no doubt accurate and, as someone who has never smoked a joint, I certainly would not want my child to indulge. But just as certainly there is a benevolent place for marijuana. My experience has been with several individuals afflicted with multiple sclerosis. Marijuana reduced their pain and increased their mobility. Another could be for patients (in nursing homes) with forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that frequently manifest in pacing, nervousness and even aggressiveness.

So if relatively harmless marijuana calms and reduces emotion, would it not be less dangerous than the much-publicized overdosing of vulnerable people in nursing homes with powerful Big Pharma drugs that are today’s major cause of death and side effects?

From what I have learned in over seven decades of life and much research, many things impair the brain–and countless other parts of the body we haven’t begun to understand yet–abuse of alcohol, abuse of tobacco, abuse of pesticides, abuse of prescription drugs, abuse of junk food (just look around you anyplace in America), abuse of vaccines, and so on. All the chemical influences affect our bodies in various ways that we have only begun to understand.

Yet, they are all ‘legal.’ And marijuana is a big bogey-bear that keeps tens of thousands of government employees employed. What a ridiculous, hypocritical world we inhabit today!

 

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