New study: even casual use of marijuana / cannabis alters brain

Reported by the UK Telegraph.


Experimenting with cannabis on a casual basis damages the brain permanently, research has found.

It is far from being a “safe” drug and no one under the age of 30 should ever use it, experts said.

People who had only used cannabis once or twice a week for a matter of months were found to have changes in the brain that govern emotion, motivation and addiction.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in America carried out detailed 3D scans on the brains of students who used cannabis casually and were not addicted and compared them with those who had never used it.

Two major sections of the brain were found to be affected.

The scientists found that the more cannabis the 40 subjects had used, the greater the abnormalities.

Around 10 million people in Britain, almost a third of the population, have used illegal drugs, with cannabis the most popular. The research author, Dr Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said: “This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences. Some people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week.

“People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says this is not the case.

[…]Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “For too long cannabis has been seen as a safe drug, but as this study suggests, it can have a really serious impact on your mental health.

“Research also shows that when people smoke cannabis before the age of 15, it quadruples their chance of developing psychosis. But very few people are aware of the risks involved.”

I troubled by this study because I know people who act as if smoking marijuana were as much a right as free speech.

What I would really like to see is that people who insist on engaging in irresponsible behaviors then go on bear the consequences of that behavior. The problem is that it’s not only these people who are affected, it’s the innocent people around them. There are the innocent victims of car accidents or theft or the children who suffer because their parents want to “alter their brains”. Those are the people I am worried about.

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10 thoughts on “New study: even casual use of marijuana / cannabis alters brain”

  1. If a child gets drunk regularly, before his / her teenage years, he’s going to suffer brain damage, too.

    Yet we don’t consider that possibility a reason to ban alcohol sales from adults.


    1. I’m for banning alcohol. I’m the child of an alcoholic: I KNOW what it does. Are you saying that the legal age limit for pot should be 30 based on this study? Some of the kids will be out of their parents’ basements by then, at least. :-)

      Two comments: now I know why Britain has “gone for a Burton.” (pun intended) Secondly, I grew up in the 60’s. I saw the potheads. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that pot messes you up. Just slap in your favorite Cheech and Chong movie, or watch Judge Judy when the defendant is a pothead. That’s all the evidence anyone should need.


      1. I’m the grandchild of an alcoholic. But I haven’t become one, despite the fact that I enjoy alcoholic beverages. Nor did my mom, who enjoys wine regularly, despite being the child of an alcoholic.


        1. Ya, I’m not asserting that there is an alcoholic gene or anything, just that it does wreak havoc on society, despite the fact that it can be used responsibly of course. As a Christian, I am against dulling one’s brain, unless it is medically necessary. I think we should be turning on our minds, not turning them off. And, with pot, we are definitely seeing some indication of increases in DUI’s, although the Left will dispute that. Lots of child abuse by pot users too.

          Again, I’ve been around pot users, and that was enough to convince me not to even try it – and that people that did were idiots. Same thing for alcohol. Frankly, I don’t know why the Left is so interested in legalizing drugs: they already act selfish, stupid, and irrational – even when they aren’t high.


          1. Oh, I think there well may be an alcoholic propensity gene BUT that in itself doesn’t necessarily guarantee that one who has it will become an alcoholic. (We do know that alcoholisms’ effects can get passed on to offspring in terms of fetal alcohol syndrome, and no doubt less dramatic effects, such as an increased propensity towards become alcoholic, may well be a result, as well.)

            My mom, and I, are examples, I believe, of people who may well have the genetic predisposition, but who haven’t succumbed to it. I don’t think we’re idiots, either, BTW.


          2. OK, the “idiots” comment was meant to be directed at the abusers of alcohol and pot, not the responsible ones – my apologies. But, it is pretty hard for me to see how a pot user can be a responsible user of that drug – I personally never saw it. And, I think that the probability of responsible alcohol use is much lower than common view. I do believe that’s why doctors do not recommend that anyone who does not drink begin doing so for the (relatively small, I think) beneficial health effects of certain alcoholic beverages, moderately consumed.

            I guess I’m falling into the unpopular Billy Sunday view on this one – albeit slightly less harsh (:-)):

            WK will enjoy that one – with its solid economic analysis.

            Alas, I was born a hundred years too late. :-) Thanks for the gentle rebuke, Will – well done!


          3. I know people who are responsible users of marijuana; I also know others who aren’t. I know people who are responsible users of alcohol; I also know others who aren’t.

            Martin Luther noted, “Men can go wrong with wine or women. What then; shall we ban women?”

            If Scripture takes pains to condemn a state of mind associated with the excess consumption of a substance, why leap to the conclusion that we’re better off not consuming ANY of said substance? One might assume that if that were what God had in mind, there would be a prohibition as explicit as that for pork in the Old Testament – but there isn’t; and wine is even meant to be consumed in the Lord’s Supper – but there, Paul condemned the excess consumption of it in some cases that occurred, which means the old BS argument that the wine was ‘non-alcoholic’ can be dispensed with right away, as if any time wine’s virtues are being praised, it’s just grape juice, but whenever its ill effects in overconsumption are noted, it’s wine. That’s attempting fitting the text to fit one’s own a priori views. Not intellectually honest.

            Not that you’ve done any such thing, but I’ve heard such arguments made.

            I have little use for either the Billy Sunday style prohibitionists or the everyone-should-voluntarily-deliberately-abstain-from-what-they’re-actually-not-forbidden-to-do school.

            My rebuke may have been gentle, and I may strive to not be unnecessarily nasty, but I strongly object to infringements on Christian liberty, that aren’t justified Scripturally in the least.

            I am a Calvinist. We don’t have free will, but we’re free to drink or smoke, and scandalize the rest of Protestantdom by what we believe and do. Oh well! :)


          4. Ban women. Hmmm. I’m thinking! :-)
            I basically agree with your argument on Scripture, and wasn’t making the grape juice argument. I had heard that the wine was watered down tremendously compared with today’s levels – as if the alcohol was more to purify the grapes and water, and that you would have to drink gallons of it to get drunk. I agree with you that my position is extreme, and is mostly being asserted for intellectual reasons.
            I do think that the fact that Scripture doesn’t strongly prohibit certain things is not evidence that we are allowed to partake in them. Abortion would be a good example – it is not directly referred to by name, anyway.
            On Billy Sunday – yes, and you obviously don’t believe that “football is the devil.” — The Waterboy :-) I do like the argument that Geisler makes here – it was compelling enough for me to refrain from even having a beer with a steak anymore, which is the combo I found alluring: (PS. I couldn’t find his original post, so I don’t know if this has been tampered with or not, but it sounds like what I read.)
            Basically, I caved on the argument of potentially leading others astray and the fact that, for whatever reason, I felt guilty drinking alcohol, even if it was just one beer. NOT condemning others, just saying that it is definitely wrong for me.
            When you say that you strongly object to infringements on Christian liberty, you are not saying that there is anything necessarily Christian about drinking alcohol are you? I mean, I strongly object to Christian businesses being forced to bow to the gay agenda, but I don’t see how banning alcohol for everyone would be a restriction on Christian liberty, since drinking alcohol is not required to be a Christian, whereas abstaining from involvement in homosexual activities is. I might be missing something here.
            I’m a Molinist, but every time I say so, I then provide an outstanding argument for Calvinism. It’s like someone is pulling my strings or something. :-) Happy Easter, Will, and God Bless you!


  2. It really is fascinating to me that this information is coming out just as states rush to legalize its use.

    I also wonder about the effect of smoking marijuana on unborn children; in my child psych class, my professor spent an entire lecture telling us about the horrible effects alcohol and nicotine can have on these babies during a specific stage of the pregnancy when the brain is forming. It was truly horrifying and heart-rending, and I sincerely doubt a single student touched either product while pregnant—and the fellows were probably jumpy about letting their wives do so! Of course, such a study related to this drug would require finding women to smoke while pregnant, and not knowing the potential harm, who wants to do that?


    1. I’ll bet there is a non-empirical way to perform such a study, using transport modeling, etc. It might not be quite as reliable, but it should be MUCH better than “global warming” models. Then again, you have moms giving pot to their toddlers, so you can’t fix stupid.


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