University of Texas just published their research into the long-term effects of marijuana
With a drug war against marijuana still raging in more countries than not, the question of how long-term marijuana use effects the human brain is a pivotal question in its legalization. Although alcohol remains legal despite heaps of evidence to the dangers of long-term use, the fight to make marijuana available both with regard to its medical properties (especially in selectively killing cancer cells) and non-medical uses has frequently hinged on the various claims made about marijuana’s effects on the recreational user.
Luckily, the debate can finally move out from the realm of opinion into scientific evidence as researchers from the University of Texas just published their research into the long-term effects of marijuana use on the brain in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
The researcher helped dispel the dying myth that marijuana use lowers IQ, and actually provides more evidence to marijuana’s potential role in fighting Alzheimer’s. The research revealed that earlier onset of regular marijuana use leads to greater structural and functional connectivity in the brain. The most significant increases in connectivity appear as an individual begins using marijuana, with results showing that the severity of use is directly correlated to greater connectivity.
Although these results will need to be confirmed with a larger sample (this was based on roughly 100 participants), the preliminary results do seem promising. More research will need to be done in order to see if these differences are caused by, or simply associated with, long term marijuana use. They also found reduced gray matter in the OFC (orbitofrontalcortex) in long-term users (which is a brain region associated with addiction). It is unclear whether this region is simply smaller in regular users (explaining their regular use) or if the use actually contributed to structural brain changes. These results will also need to be contrasted with other researcher showing that cannabinoids actually promote brain cell growth
One of the biggest question surrounding marijuana use, particularly by those who try to justify it being labeled a very dangerous and harmful drug, is the potential negative effects of long term use on the brain. Before tackling this question though, it should be pointed out the alcohol remains legal despite a long list of evidence validating that is is clearly dangerous relative to brain wellbeing.
Marijuana, on the other hand, has proven once again to be superior to alcohol, which researchers from the University of Texas demonstrated through research they published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) regarding the long term effects of marijuana on the brain.
Not only did the researchers debunk the myth that marijuana lowers IQ, and also presented evidence demonstrating that it can effectively fight Alzheimer’s, but they also reveal that regular marijuana use actually leads to greater connectivity in the brain!
Although these study results, which were convened on will have to be corroborated in larger studies, 100 participants, the preliminary results are definitely positive and encouraging.
They also demonstrated another phenomenal finding that it helped reduce gray matter in the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, which is the brain region associated with addiction. Another remarkable result!
Although, again, this will have to be demostrated in bigger studies the results are obviously promising. Likewise, cannabinoids were also recently shown to promote brain cell growth (neurogensis) rather than destroy it.
In short, weed makes your brain stronger!