Marijuana — Could it be A very Harmful Medication?
Have a deep breath!
In 2012, a study at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) calculated that even smoking an individual joint everyday for 20 years could be benign, though most participants only smoked two or three joints each month. “I was surprised we didn’t see effects [of marijuana use],” said UCSF epidemiologist Mark Pletcher, who led the study.
One assessment of numerous epidemiological studies points to small sample size and poor study design as reasons for scientists’inability to nail down a link between cannabis and cancer risk. However many suspect that this kind of link doesn’t exist, and that marijuana may even have cancer-preventive effects. A 2008 study, for instance, suggested that smoking marijuana may reduce the danger of tobacco-associated lung cancer, calculating that people who smoke both marijuana and tobacco have a diminished risk of cancer than people who smoke only tobacco (though still a higher risk than non-smokers).
But even Pletcher isn’t sanguine about marijuana’s effects on the lungs, and suspects that there might still be long-term lung damage that may be hard to detect. “We really can’t reassure ourselves about heavy use,” he explained.
Your brain on drugs
There is some evidence to declare that stoned subjects exhibit increased risk-taking and impaired decision-making, and score worse on memory tasks-and residual impairments have now been detected days as well as weeks after use. Some studies also link years of regular marijuana use to deficits in memory, learning, and concentration. A current and widely discussed report on the IQs of New Zealanders followed since birth unearthed that cannabis users who’d started their habit in adolescence had lower IQs than non-users.
In this study, led by researchers at Duke University, “you might clearly see as a consequence of cannabis use, IQ falls,” said Derik Hermann, a clinical neuroscientist at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany who was not involved in the research.
However not 4 months later, a re-analysis and computer simulation at the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo countered the Duke findings. Ole Rogeberg contended that socioeconomic factors, not marijuana use, contributed to the low IQs noticed in cannabis users.
Rogeberg’s conclusion counters a considerable literature, however, which supports a link between pot use and neurophysiological decline. Studies in both humans and animals suggest that people who acquiring a marijuana habit in adolescence face long-term negative impacts on brain function, with some users finding it difficult to concentrate and learn new tasks.
Notably, most studies on the subject declare that while there could be negative consequences of smoking as a teen, users who begin in adulthood are generally unaffected. What do CBD gummies contain? This may be due to endocannabinoid-directed reorganization of the mind during puberty, Hermann explained. The intake of cannabinoids that accompany pot use may cause irreversible “misleading of the neural growth,” he said.
As well as the effects for intelligence, many studies declare that smoking marijuana raises the danger of schizophrenia, and may have similar effects on the brain. Hermann’s group used MRI to detect cannabis-associated neuron damage in the pre-frontal cortex and found that it was similar to brain changes noticed in schizophrenia patients. Other studies further declare that weed-smoking schizophrenics have greater disease-associated brain changes and perform worse on cognitive tests than their non-smoking counterparts.
But much with this research can’t distinguish between brain changes caused by marijuana use and symptoms connected with the disease. It’s possible that cannabis-smoking schizophrenics “might have unpleasant symptoms [that precede full-blown schizophrenia] and are self-medicating” with the psychotropic drug, said Roland Lamarine, a professor of community health at California State University, Chico. “We haven’t seen a growth in schizophrenics, despite having much more marijuana use.”
Actually, other research suggests that cannabis-using schizophrenics score better on cognitive tests than non-using schizophrenics. Such conflicting reports may be due to the varying concentrations-and varying effects-of cannabinoids in marijuana. As well as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a neurotoxic cannabinoid that’s accountable for marijuana’s mind-altering properties, the drug also incorporates many different non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), which could drive back neuron damage. Hermann unearthed that the volume of the hippocampus-a brain area essential for memory processing-is slightly smaller in cannabis users than in non-users, but more CBD-rich marijuana countered this effect.
A deadly cocktail?
While data supporting the harmful effects of marijuana alone are weak, some researchers tend to be more worried about the drug together with other substances, such as for example tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine. Some studies suggest, for instance, that marijuana may increase cravings for other drugs, resulting in its infamous tag as a “gateway drug.” A study published earlier this month supported this theory when it unearthed that, at least in rats, THC exposure increases tobacco’s addictive effects. Furthermore, marijuana may not mix well with prescription drugs, as cannabis causes the liver to metabolize drugs more slowly, raising the danger of drug toxicity.