The Brains of Marijuana Users are Different
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The Brains of Marijuana Users are Different
Posted by CN Staff on November 11, 2014 at 06:21:45 PT
By Abby Phillip 
Source: Washington Post
USA -- If you're confused about what marijuana use really does to people who use it, you're not alone. For years, the scientific research on health effects of the drug have been all over the map.Earlier this year, one study suggested that even casual marijuana use could cause changes to the brain. Another found that marijuana use was also associated with poor sperm quality, which could lead to infertility in men.
But marijuana advocates point to other research indicating that the drug is far less addictive than other drugs, and some studies have found no relationship between IQ and marijuana use in teens.Researchers at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas in Dallas sought to clear up some of the confusion with a study that looked at a relatively large group of marijuana users and evaluated their brains for a slew of different indicators.What they found was complex, but the pattern was clear: The brains of marijuana users were different than those of non-marijuana users. The area of the brain responsible for establishing the reward system that helps us survive and also keeps us motivated was smaller in users than in non-marijuana users. But there was also evidence that the brain compensated for this loss of volume by increasing connectivity and the structural integrity of the brain tissue.Those effects were more pronounced for marijuana users who started young."The orbitofrontal cortex is one of the primary regions in a network of brain areas called the reward system," explained Francesca Filbey, lead author of the study and an associate professor of the neurogenetics of addictive behavior at the University of Texas in Dallas. "It helps us determine what is good for us and what keeps us sustained. "In this case, the orbitofrontal cortex plays a role in drug use because drug use and things associated with it --paraphernalia for example -- are associated with the rewarding effects of drugs."The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used MRI scans to look at the brains of 62 non-marijuana users and 48 regular marijuana users, 27 of whom used marijuana but not other drugs. The marijuana users reported ingesting the drug about three times a day -- very heavy use -- and had used it for an average of about 10 years.Looking first at atypically heavy marijuana use is necessary to identify structural effects, if there are any, Filbey said. Subsequent research would look at varying levels of use to find out if differences compared to non-users are still observed. For example, in Colorado, only about 22 percent of marijuana users reported using the drug about once a day at most.Relative to other studies, this one had a fairly large sample size; it also excluded participants who had symptoms of psychosis, brain injury or neurological disorders in order to reduce the likelihood that the tests would pick up on other confounding factors. And it looked at three brain characteristics: the volume of the orbitofrontal cortex, how connected that part of the brain was to other areas, and the structural integrity of the white matter."We found that while the orbitofrontal cortex was smaller, there was greater functional and structural connectivity," said Filbey. "The white matter seemed to have greater integrity than the [non-marijuana using group]. And the connection between the orbitofrontal cortex and other areas were stronger."That's potentially positive news suggesting that whatever impact marijuana use might have on the size or volume of that part of the brain, it may be offset by better connectivity and structural soundness. "It suggests that there is definitely a more complicated pattern that the brain seems to be able to compensate for any kind of loss in order to keep that network maintained," Filbey said.However, Filbey's research also indicated that some of these findings could be affected by how young the person was a the time that they started using marijuana and how long marijuana use continued. People who started younger appeared to show more protective effects -- stronger connectivity and integrity in their white matter. But the longer the person used the drug, those features began to erode. After about six or seven years of use, connectivity and integrity begin to erode."So whatever compensatory effects that there may be originally seemed to diminish with prolonged use," she added.There is no proven connection between the structural characteristics of this area in the brain and certain behaviors in humans. And it is possible that the small orbitofrontal cortex observed in marijuana users predated their marijuana use. A 2012 study found that smaller orbital frontal cortex volume at 12 years of age appeared to predict the initiation of marijuana use later in life.Further long-term research is needed to determine what if any effects cessation has on brain structures of marijuana users.Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Abby Phillip Published: November 11, 2014Copyright: 2014 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by potpal on November 12, 2014 at 17:26:44 PT
Great run down, Garry
Good reading, thanks.
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Comment #5 posted by potpal on November 12, 2014 at 15:51:03 PT
War is over, if you want it
Every single news outlet in the world picked up this worthless story. Almost on queue with the swing to the right on election day. 
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Comment #4 posted by Garry Minor on November 12, 2014 at 06:04:51 PT:
University Of Saskatchewan Research Suggests Marijuana Analogue Stimulates Brain Cell Growth, 2005“Most ‘drugs of abuse’ suppress neurogenesis,” Zhang says. “Only marijuana promotes neurogenesis.”Interesting that the pseudoscience our government and media continue to puke out refuses to recognize this and so much more!But then, .... what can be expected of the haters that have censored Cannabis Cures cancer since '74?For decades they have done everything they can to distract people from the Truth and demonize this wonderful Plant!Too bad for them that the Plant is going to win!The day will come that they will weep and gnash their teeth as they become the laughingstock of history!Kaneh Bosm!
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Comment #3 posted by Oleg the Tumor on November 11, 2014 at 14:57:46 PT
Confusion? Of Course they are confused!
"If you're confused about what marijuana use really does to people who use it, you're not alone. For years, the scientific research on health effects of the drug have been all over the map."Take one part "obstructionist mindset", one part "status quo obsessive compulsion", another heaping portion of "publish or perish inferiority" and top it off with a hogshead of FEAR OF NONCOMPLIANCE leading to loss of professional accredentations, income and sanity.The result is a bunch of very smart people who unfortunately are as confused as vegan zombies.GIVE UP ALREADY!FREE THE PRISONER OF SCHEDULE ONE! 
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Comment #2 posted by Garry Minor on November 11, 2014 at 14:47:51 PT:
Why don't they print this?
For those that aren't aware!Imagine if we discovered a single resource that could cure cancer, Alzheimer's and was capable of safely treating many diseases, basically providing affordable health care?
What if this resource also provided the most nutritious things you can eat, and, could produce well over 30,000 earth friendly products creating countless jobs?Read this, please!Headers first, then come back.True is True!AlterNet;
Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew in '74 is the 1974 Virginia study regarding the ability of cannabis to destroy tumors.
"Unfortunately, the world bumps along between such moments of hope and long periods of intellectual castration." is the 2000 study by Guzman, twenty six years later, over ten years ago, that proves the same. How sad! 1600 Americans a day die of cancer.; "Cannabis destroys cancer cells... reveals research at Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry"; "Here, we review recent work that raises interest in the development and exploration of potent, nontoxic, and nonhabit forming cannabinoids for cancer therapy." to becoming illegal in 1937, "cannabis tinctures, fluid extracts, and flowers" were the most commonly used medicines in the USA. Your great-grandparents would have used them! (This information was deleted from the pharmacopoeia in 1941) Andrew Weil: Cannabis Rx: Cutting Through the Misinformation (Even colicky babies were treated with cannabis medicines) Simpsons Home Made Hemp Oil Cancer Cure's; "Our results indicate that cannabinoid receptors are important in the pathology of AD and that cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease." Brain Injury; (2002) "We expect that within the next few years these mechanisms will be clarified and cannabinoid-based drugs for brain trauma will be introduced in the clinic."
(Hasn't happened yet); "Everything points towards these compounds having been evolved by the plants as antimicrobial defenses that specifically target bacterial cells," says Gibbons. "But the actual mechanism by which they kill the bugs is still a mystery."; "Therefore, in addition to symptom management, cannabis may also slow the neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability in multiple sclerosis and probably other diseases."; "Thus, cannabinoids appear to be the only illicit drug whose capacity to produce increased hippocampal newborn neurons is positively correlated with its anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects."; (outstanding) “It was like a wave of calmness just swept over him and he changed from being a monster into a loveable, little boy."; New research proves cannabinoids suppress the virus!,313-hiv-alternative-complementary-therapy-hiv-alternative-complementary-therapy/3530-cannabinoids-may-inhibit-cd4-cell-infection-by-cxcr4-tropic-hivRetinal function; "A team led by scientists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has demonstrated the prevalence of cannabinoid receptors in the retina, indicating an important role for cannabinoids—a family of compounds which includes the psychoactive components of marijuana and hashish—in retinal function and perhaps vision in general." to mention ALS, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, epilepsy, diabetes, obesity, depression, tuberculosis, lupus, nausea, migraine, arthritis, alcoholism, drug addiction, cystic fibrosis, anxiety, glaucoma, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, asthma, emphysema, anorexia, muscular dystrophy, meningitis, flu, gut and eating disorders, herpes, Huntingtons, Tourettes, Parkinsons, Crohns disease, and many more!Hemp Seed Nutrition; 
Our government stockpiles it as a strategic food source/resource under executive order #12919."Seeds of the plant cannabis sativa, hemp seed, contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life. No other single plant source has the essential amino acids in such an easily digestible form, nor has the essential fatty acids in as perfect a ratio to meet human nutritional needs." Popular Mechanics. 
Build a car from the soil! American jobs? What happened? about this? "You wouldn’t read about it… Lotus have gone for a different type of ‘green’ by announcing an ‘Eco Elise’ made largely out of hemp!" Battery Made Of Hemp? Plant-Based Supercapacitor Is ‘Better Than Graphene,’ Study Finds
Environmentalists have long championed the eco-friendly virtues of hemp, but more recently engineers have discovered the plant’s energy-saving properties. Researchers in the U.S. have developed a super-strong, super-fast, hemp-based battery called a supercapacitor that could charge things like electric cars and power tools and is a cheaper alternative to conventional graphene supercapacitors, researchers say. if we discovered that Cannabis was in the Holy Anointing Oil, Chrism that God instructed Moses to prepare for anointing His priests, kings, prophets, and, His Anointed Ones, Christians? MinorColumbus Cannabis MinistryColumbus IndianaWhat if I told you that the institution of the churches was literally, Biblically and factually antichrist, and, that even our new friendly pope is not a "Christian?"
cannabis-and-the-christIt's all in the Book!Kaneh Bosm!
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on November 11, 2014 at 08:27:38 PT
Now I Know Why I Need MJ; To Keep Me Motivated!
"The area of the brain responsible for establishing the reward system that helps us survive and also keeps us motivated was smaller in users than in non-marijuana users."Eureka! Kudos on the research guys! Keep it up!I just need(ed) that little extra motivation, ha!
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