Tag Archives: marijuana

Researchers seek answers of brain on (legal) cannabis

For those suffering depression or anxiety, using cannabis for relief may not be the long-term answer.

That’s according to new research from a team at Colorado State University seeking scientific clarity on how cannabis — particularly chronic, heavy use — affects neurological activity, including the processing of emotions. 10501634_10152483771078046_6376046067124349017_n

Researchers led by Lucy Troup, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, have published a study in PeerJ describing their findings from an in-depth, questionnaire-based analysis of 178 college-aged, legal users of cannabis. Recreational cannabis became legal in Colorado in 2014. Since then, seven other states have enacted legalization for recreational use, while many others allow medical use.

“One thing we wanted to focus on was the significance of Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, and its own unique population and use that occurs here,” Troup said.

Through the study, which was based solely upon self-reported use of the drug, the researchers sought to draw correlations between depressive or anxious symptoms and cannabis consumption.

They found that those respondents categorized with subclinical depression, who reported using the drug to treat their depressive symptoms, scored lower on their anxiety symptoms than on their depressive symptoms – so, they were actually more depressed than they were anxious. The same was true for self-reported anxiety sufferers: they were found to be more anxious than they were depressed. MORE HERE

Daily marijuana use has a measurable effect on the brain, a new study finds.

Teenagers who smoked marijuana daily for three years performed poorly on memory tasks and showed abnormal changes in brain structure, according to a Northwestern Medicine study. Researchers in Chicago observed the brains of teenagers who were heavy users of marijuana. In those individuals, memory-related structures in the brain appeared to shrink and collapse inward, possibly indicating a decrease in neurons.

These abnormalities were recorded two years after the teens stopped using marijuana, possibly indicating long-term effects, and look similar to schizophrenia-related brain abnormalities.

The brains were shaped more abnormally for individuals who began marijuana use at a younger age, according to the reports, which suggest that memory regions of the brain are more susceptible to the drug at earlier ages.

The research was published in the December issue of Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Heavy marijuana use may harm the brain

New NIDA-funded research shows that heavy marijuana use (at least four times per week over the past six months) is linked to adverse changes in the function and structure of brain areas associated with reward, decision making, and motivation.  Heavy marijuana use can also enhance some brain circuits – possibly to compensate for reduced function in specific brain regions. This effect was more pronounced in those who started using at a young age, indicating that developing brains are particularly vulnerable to marijuana’s effects.

Illustration of a neuron cell

Although further long-term studies are needed to determine whether marijuana caused these effects, these scientific findings add to the growing literature showing that heavy marijuana use may harm the brain.

For a copy of the abstract (published online November 10), go to www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/11/05/1415297111.abstract.