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NORML Responds To Latest ‘Pot Shrinks The Brain’ Fears

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marijuana creativity brainNORML’s Deputy Director today on Alternet.org addressed new media claims that cannabis use can potentially shrink the brain:

[excerpt]A new study identifying minor differences in the brain imaging of habitual marijuana consumers compared to non-users may be ideal for stimulating sensational headlines (e.g., “Regular pot smokers have shrunken brains, study says,” Los Angeles Times, November 10), but tells us little in regard to whether pot poses actual health risks.

Specifically, an MRI scan revealed less gray matter in the orbital frontal cortex of pot-smoking subjects compared to those who had never used the drug. Researchers also identified increased connectivity between certain regions of the brain in regular marijuana users compared with non-users.

So precisely what do these findings tell us in regard to pot use and health? Not much. Since the study design is not longitudinal, investigators cannot determine whether these differences are caused by subject’s cannabis use, whether these differences existed prior to subjects’ ever trying cannabis, or whether these differences persist when users’ cannabis consumption ceases.

Most importantly, investigators in this study failed to determine whether any of these differences are positively associated with any measurable adverse performance outcomes, such as cognitive performance or quality of life. It may be that these cannabis users are functioning in their daily lives in a manner that is indistinguishable from controls, in which case the imaging differences may hold little if any real-world significance. (In fact, one of the paper’s authors acknowledged, “[C]hronic users appear to be doing fine.”)

Full text of NORML’s response, “Media Leaping to Extremely Faulty Conclusions from Study on the Effects of Marijuana on the Brain,” appears online here.

Source: NORML - make a donation

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  • Seal Dal

    That is ironic that you say You don’t win people over on an issue by insulting them, you have to figure out a way to connect with them” but in your previous post you streotyped all cannabis users as irrational.

    As far as the study, anyone that reads about it will conclude it was poorly done, and the original objective of the study was probably something different than what they came up with. i also find it odd to be done at UNM and UT of all places, let alone it was two different universities.

    we know about as much about grey matter as we do about alien life. what we do know is there is other evidence out there linking psychological benefit for certain functions regarding reduced grey matter. we also know on a base level neurogenesis is very good. we also know cannabis decreases inflammation throughout the body and perhaps the brain. And we know that cognitive effects were tested in this study as well with pen and paper tests, and there was no difference in that aspect.

    To me, this seems like a “counter point story”, something that came out and journalists ran with but has little credibility.

  • slongo
  • jontomas

    Right. And you can’t persuade bigots who, because of the monstrous enabling of the fraudulent prohibition, propaganda, and demonization, have found in marijuana consumers, the perfect, state-approved scapegoats.
    Nothing can feed their hate like that, and they are loathe to give it up.

    You can only expose them, shame them, and force them back under their rocks.

  • Captain Obvious

    A larger brain means nothing if it is in bad health. In an inflamed brain, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis are much wanted. I would imagine that may come in handy if cranial pressure needs to safely be relieved too.

    Perhaps the synthetic medication and other diseases are inflaming the so called ‘healthy’ brains and the cannabis is providing anti-inflamatory/neuroprotection like so many other studies have shown?
    “Researchers also identified increased connectivity between certain regions of the brain in regular marijuana users compared with non-users.”
    “[C]hronic users appear to be doing fine.”