New Concerns About Marijuana Use
Several recently published studies have raised serious concerns about the use of pot, especially among the young. One study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, looked at the casual use of pot among those ages 18-25. The study was conducted by Northwestern University’s medical school, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
They found changes in the brain of the casual pot users, in particular in the nucleus accumbens and the nucleus amygdala, regions of the brain that are key to the regulation of emotion and motivation. Casual pot users were defined as smoking between one and seven joints a week, although several of the subjects smoked more that 20 joints per week. None of the pot users reported any problems based on their pot use.
But the researchers found that the more a subject smoked pot, the greater the abnormalities in the regions of the brain. The researchers were concerned about the discovered effect on the brains of these young people, but with the evidence that the brain is always capable of changing, the effects may not be limited to the age of the user.
These findings match the animal studies, showing that when rats are given THC–the ingredient in marijuana that gets a person high–the brains of the rats rewire and form new connections. These new studies are showing that human brains are being rewired as well, and the rewiring will create long-term problems, both for the person and for society.
Another study, to be published in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association, linked marijuana use with serious cardiovascular complications, including cardiac arrest. The research looked at data collected by the French Addictovigilance Network where the average age of those surveyed was 34.
The director of research at the Heart Institute of Good Samaritan hospital in LA agrees with the study, saying, “As more and more marijuana is being used there have been more identifiable cases of cardiovascular complications. Pot can increase heart rate, and this can increase the demand for oxygen by the heart, which can lead to problems.”
Those defending the use of marijuana often compare it to the problems associated with alcohol. But we know the risks of alcohol abuse and the cost to our society. But why justify something that is increasingly seen as a health threat by comparing it with other health threats. One problem does not justify the acceptance of another problem,
Question: What are your thoughts on legalizing pot?