Cannabis Study Shows Alcohol More Damaging To Brain Than Marijuana
With an increasing number of states implementing medical marijuana programs or legalizing cannabis altogether, the emphasis on reliable marijuana studies is growing stronger. To date, studies exploring the full effects of weed are decidedly limited, however, a new cannabis study has looked into the effects of marijuana on the brain.
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Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder conducted a review of existing imaging data that looks at the effects of both alcohol and marijuana on the brain. Their results have shown that whilst alcohol consumption is related to long-term changes to the structure of white and gray matter in the brain, marijuana use had no long-term effects.
Study leader Rachel Thayer, of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, and colleagues recently reported their results in the journal Addiction.
The cannabis study co-author Kent Hutchison, also of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, notes that to date, studies that have investigated this association have produced mixed results.
"When you look at these studies going back years," he explains, "you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. The next study then comes around, and they say that marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum [...]."
"The point is that there's no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures."
With the aim of bridging the gap, this new study provides meaningful insight into the effects of cannabis on brain function.
This particular cannabis study shows how cannabis use affects the brain compared to alcohol. It’s been known for decades that alcohol can be damaging to the brain and can impair cognitive function.
Alcohol Impairs Brain Function
The study included the brain images of 853 adults who were aged between 18 and 55 years and 439 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18. All participants varied in their use of alcohol and marijuana.
Based on these findings, the researchers believe that drinking alcohol is likely to be much more harmful to brain health than using marijuana.
Researchers did note, however, that the jury is still out and that more research needs to be conducted in order to reach further conclusions.
Marijuana remains a schedule 1 drug under federal law. As more states introduce bills to legalize marijuana in some form or another, the need for consistent, reliable research grows ever stronger.