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Casual Marijuana Use Harmful

Casual Marijuana Use Harmful

For decades, pro-pot groups have insisted that a little recreational use was no big deal. Now, a new study reports that casual marijuana use may have a not-so-casual effect. Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed how casual marijuana use impacts the brain and found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.

The study’s findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. It’s another blow, following similar research that linked chronic, long-term marijuana use with mental illness and changes in brain development.

The study of casual marijuana use found abnormalities in users’ working memory, a core fundamental aspect of our brains that we use every day, affecting judgment, decisions, planning and mathematics.

For this particular study, the team at Northwestern analyzed a small sample 20 marijuana users between the ages of 18 and 25, comparing them with 20 similar control subjects. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to analyze the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape. They found that all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

The study is just a start, but it definitely makes a case for additional research in this area.

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