Research highlights concern with smokers in their teens and 20’s and the effects done to them in their later years.
If you thought smoking a joint occasionally was OK, a new study released Tuesday suggests you might want to reconsider.
The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is the first to link casual marijuana use to major changes in the brain. And according to the researchers, the degree of abnormalities is based on the number of joints you smoke in a week.
Using different types of neuroimaging, researchers examined the brains of 40 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who were enrolled in Boston-area colleges. Twenty of them smoked marijuana at least once a week. The other 20 did not use pot at all.
The marijuana smokers were asked to track their cannabis use for 90 days. All were given high-resolution MRIs, and users and non-users’ results were compared.
Researchers examined regions of the brain involved in emotional processing, motivation and reward, called the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. They analyzed volume, shape and density of grey matter — where most cells in brain tissue are located.
“I think the findings that there are observable differences in brain structure with marijuana even in these young adult recreational users indicate that there are significant effects of marijuana on the brain,” says Dr. Jodi Gilman, lead author and a researcher in the Massachusetts General Center for Addiction Medicine. “Those differences were exposure-dependent, meaning those who used more marijuana had greater abnormalities.”
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