One of the most controversial topics in the world is raising new questions for society. Chronic pot smoking: is it safe or is it detrimental to the health?

Well, the truth is, there are effects of smoking marijuana, other than increased appetite and euphoric states of pleasure. There are negative effects to this habit, this just cannot be denied! The important question is, just how bad are these negative effects?

Some say marijuana is just another habitual pastime that doesn’t really cause any permanent harm. Others think marijuana can change your entire thinking process. So, why is this?

Gray matter

This is where marijuana takes its toll. It has been proven recently that pot smoking reduces gray matter-exclusively in the orbitalfrontal cortex. It’s true! There is a marked reduction in volume in this area of the brain-mainly area that controls emotions and decision making.

Taking a closer look at these results shows other interesting facts. Although these regions have decreased volume, they do have increased connectivity to other regions of the brain. Even though this sounds strange, there is a reason for this seemingly inconclusive evidence.

It seems that due to the loss of gray matter, the brain is desperately attempting to compensate by connecting with other regions, filling the gaps. Apparently, marijuana improves the ability of the brain to form new connections. In fact, when studying the brains of pot smokers, there is a marked increase in connectivity as opposed to non-smokers.

Prove it!

Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas used an MRI machine to come at this conclusion. Test subjects, comprised of 50 smokers and 62 non-smokers, allowed researchers to test their brains to get a larger idea of what was actually happening.

The smokers were chronic users, smoking at least three times a day, every day, and were of various age range, consisting of both male and female volunteers. The non-smokers were all the same age and sex, being a controlled group. This allowed for a more unbiased performance from the test subjects.

Scientists came to the conclusion that the earlier the individual started smoking, the greater the increase in connectivity of the brain regions. After 8 years, however, the re-wiring drastically slowed, but still remained well over the connectivity of non-smokers. Users also had a lower IQ, but surprisingly, this had nothing to do with decreased OFC volume.

Arguments

Many advocates question the usefulness of these tests, saying they have proven no negative facts about the user’s quality of life. It seems that marijuana smokers perform and contribute to life in a perfectly normal way, no drastic changes or decrease in basic living abilities. Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws states that these findings may have absolutely nothing to do with the real world and are almost insignificant.

Others may disagree and keep pushing for laws against marijuana use, saying it is a detrimental drug which damages the minds of our youth. There are strong statements from both sides and results that remain inconclusive. Until there is a larger enough amount of evidence, this issue will remain a highly debatable and passionate topic, fueling the continuation of long-term studies.

Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Fine

    I’m for compassion and positive progress, and try to be neutral politically in this case. Altough spontaneous reflections to the title; Einstein had a brain smaller than average. His quotes show enormous compassion.. perhaps he had it too. Woman in general seem to have more compassion and haven brains slightly bigger than men’s. However those correlations are definitely moooooore complex. I’m sure elephants has some undiscovered abilities in their huge brains, and still an insect can be so much faster than a human in some aspects.

    1. Sherrie
      Sherrie

      What if, let’s ponder, that size doesn’t really matter…and of course this is what you are saying. I do believe that intellect is in relation to overall size. Remember when you learned about the strength of ants and how, if they were our size with the same capabilities they could easily overpower us and crush us? Yes, you remember those lessons.

      I think brains could be like this.

      In relation to smoking pot, I smoked pot for over 10 years and while I do have memory problems and anxiety issues, I still seem to understand complex things as well or better than I used to. To be honest, I am just unsure about the total effects on our brains or if the size has anything to do with this as well.

      Thank you for reading, Fine

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