If you’re in your 30’s and have finally gotten over that college fad of smoking pot, don’t be surprised when you notice you’re slow to react – to everything. A study by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine was conducted on adults in their young twenties who’ve quit marijuana usage after years of heavy usage. The research showed that the regions in their brains involving memory and reasoning were less responsive to stimuli – meaning, they were degrading. This indicates the negative effects on chronic use of the substance.
“The study proves the relationship between brain abnormalities and the chronic use of marijuana. These symptoms last a few years after separation from the drug. With the movement to decriminalize marijuana, more research should be conducted to understand its long-term effects on the brain,” said Matthew Smith, a lead author in the study.
Although not enough research has been conducted to set into stone that marijuana users will be brain-damaged for life, the research conducted proves recurring problems even years after the withdrawal period.
Furthermore, a recently published study in Neuropsychopharmacology went into detail specifically about the negative side effects of the marijuana usage in the adolescence age. In the study, researchers exposed young mice to an active chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for 20 days. The mice were then returned to their family. It was discovered when they were adults that their cortical oscillations were chronically modified, with signs of impaired cognitive functions.
The study was also repeated and this time exposing the mice to the same chemical, but only in adulthood. Their brain functions and the ability to perform cognitive tasks remained normal. The conclusion formulated showed that even in very low doses, and for a brief period, exposure to the drug in the critical adolescence age can cause real brain abnormalities that persist into adulthood. It appears that the brain’s development in adolescence is when marijuana’s toll can be its greatest.
The senior author of the study also adds:
“We looked at the different regions of the brain. The back of the brain develops first, and the frontal parts of the brain develop during adolescence.
We found that the frontal cortex is much more affected by the drugs during adolescence. This is the area of the brain that controls executive functions, such as planning and impulse control. It is also the area most affected in schizophrenia.”
Just in recent weeks, Uruguay became the first country to completely legalize the production, sale, and distribution of marijuana. The world is changing and it is evident that the use of marijuana is becoming less and less taboo in many places around the globe. In light of the latest research (granted, one of them only involved mice), will you still use the miracle drug? Needless to say, I’d rather be safe than sorry.