Tag Archives: Marijuana

New study: long-term marijuana use causes decline in memory in middle age

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Cool new study reported by Reuters.

It says:

As marijuana becomes more accessible to young and old alike in the U.S., researchers warn that long-term use of the drug may cause lasting harm to at least one type of brain function.

A new study based on following thousands of young adults into middle age finds that long-term marijuana use is linked to poorer performance on verbal memory tests, but other areas of brain function do not appear to be affected.

“We did not expect to find such a consistent association with verbal memory for chronic exposure to marijuana,” especially since the link held even when other factors like cigarette smoking, alcohol use and other behavioral factors associated with marijuana use were accounted for, said lead author Dr. Reto Auer of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Auer and colleagues analyzed data from a 25-year U.S. study of young adults, which included repeated measures of marijuana exposure over time and a standardized test of verbal memory, processing speed and executive function in year 25. Almost 3,500 participants completed the standardized tests.

At the beginning of the study period in the 1980s, participants were 18 to 30 years old and more than 80 percent reported past marijuana use. Just 12 percent continued to use marijuana into middle age, according to the results in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers found that as past years of marijuana use increased, verbal memory scores decreased. In practical terms, the results meant that for every additional five years of exposure, 50 percent of marijuana users would remember one less word from a list of 15 tested words.

“Recreational marijuana users use it to get high, to benefit from the transient change it produces,” Auer told Reuters Health by email. “But this transient effect might have long term consequences on the way the brain processes information and could also have direct toxic effects on neurons.”

What I am finding out as I age is that I have to keep pushing back the date of my “retirement”. I thought I  could quit working at 30, then 35, then 40. Now I am thinking 45 before I can be more free. The point is that the world is becoming a more difficult place to be independent. A lot of government spending is going on, and a lot of debt is being added to our national debt. I may never be able to stop working. And it’s a good thing that I will have all my faculties intact when I have to keep working. Be careful with exchanging short-term fun and thrills for long-term poverty. Things are not getting easier, you’ll have to work just to get by.

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After legalizing marijuana, Colorado sees higher number of “daily” users

Lee Strobel tweeted this story from the Denver Post.

Excerpt:

As marijuana legalization took hold in Colorado, the estimated percentage of regular cannabis users in the state jumped to the second-highest level in the country, according to new federal data.

When asked, roughly one out of every eight Colorado residents over the age of 12 reported using marijuana in the previous month. Only Rhode Island topped Colorado in the percentage of residents who reported using marijuana as frequently.

The results come from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and represent the average of estimates gathered in 2012 and 2013.

[…]State-specific data from the survey are averaged over two-year periods to compensate for relatively small sample sizes.

For the 2011-12 period, 10.4 percent of Coloradans 12 and older reported using marijuana in the month prior to being surveyed. That placed Colorado seventh in the country for monthly marijuana use.

Monthly use in Colorado jumped to 12.7 percent — a 22 percent increase — in the 2012-13 data. The result means the survey estimates about 530,000 people in Colorado use marijuana at least once a month.

Nationally, monthly marijuana use by people 12 and older nudged upward by about 4 percent to 7.4 percent. In Washington state — which, like Colorado, in 2012 legalized marijuana use and limited possession for adults — monthly marijuana use rose by about 20 percent to 12.3 percent.

Kleiman said researchers will get a better idea about marijuana use in Colorado once they are able to zoom in on data showing how many people use marijuana daily. A study commissioned by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division this year found that people who use marijuana almost every day account for about 22 percent of cannabis users in Colorado but consume nearly 67 percent of the marijuana used. Other studies have warned about a possible uptick in heavy marijuana use.

“The fraction of people who are monthly users who are in fact daily users has gone way, way up,” Kleiman said.

Monthly marijuana use increased across all age groups in Colorado, according to the new survey numbers. The number of people who reported using marijuana in the past year also increased in Colorado in the 2012-13 data, but the state ranked only sixth nationally in the measurement. Measurements for alcohol consumption and illicit drug use increased, as well.

What will be interesting will be to see how this increased usage affects tax revenues and the crime rate. I think when more people use mind-altering drugs, it is going to harm their ability to get and keep jobs, which affects tax revenue. And when people are addicted to something, they are more inclined to take a risk on committing a crime to get the money to pay for their next fix. Should be interesting to learn from Colorado’s little experiment.

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New 20-year study: long-term use of cannabis raises risk of mental health problems

A new study on marijuana was reported in the UK Daily Mail.

Excerpt:

A definitive 20-year study into the effects of long-term cannabis use has demolished the argument that the drug is safe.

Cannabis is highly addictive, causes mental health problems and opens the door to hard drugs, the study found.

The paper by Professor Wayne Hall, a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation, builds a compelling case against those who deny the devastation cannabis wreaks on the brain. 

Professor Hall found:

  • One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it
  • Cannabis doubles the risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
  • Cannabis users do worse at school. Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development
  • One in ten adults who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it and those who use it are more likely to go on to use harder drugs
  • Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, a risk which increases substantially if the driver has also had a drink
  • Smoking it while pregnant reduces the baby’s birth weight

Last night Professor Hall, a professor of addiction policy at King’s College London, dismissed the views of those who say that cannabis is harmless.

‘If cannabis is not addictive then neither is heroin or alcohol,’ he said.

‘It is often harder to get people who are dependent on cannabis through withdrawal than for heroin – we just don’t know how to do it.’

Those who try to stop taking cannabis often suffer anxiety, insomnia, appetite disturbance and depression, he found. Even after treatment, less than half can stay off the drug for six months.

I’m seeing a lot of “Christian libertarians” being supportive of initiatives to legalize drugs, but there is a reason why drugs are illegal. They hurt people. They hurt families. Why would we want to celebrate and normalize something that is known to cause harm?

Please see below for more recent studies on the effects of marijuana.

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