Decades of cannabis prohibition in the United States means that there are many unknowns regarding use. For people living in states where legislators are relaxing their stance on marijuana, a lack of scientific data can lead to much confusion. Such people would be wise to remember that “legal” does not mean “safe” for consumption. Alcohol, after all, is legal for adults and is one of the leading causes of morbidity and premature death.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have recreational marijuana; and, it is only a matter of time before more states hop on board. As more and more voter-age Americans consider the classification of marijuana, it’s of the utmost importance to determine the facts surrounding cannabis use. Such findings are not just significant for people looking to relax after a long day, but also for patients struggling with treatment-resistant health conditions.
Last month, The Society for Neuroscience held an annual meeting in San Diego, CA. The findings of six cannabis studies were presented at the convention, MNT reports. Below you will find a list of the most notable results from the research.
Shedding Light On Cannabis Use
Some 22.2 million people aged 12 and older in the U.S. said that they had used cannabis in the past month, according to a nationwide survey. Between 2002–2015, prior month use among people aged 12+ rose from 6.2 to 8.3 percent. Marijuana is by far the most popular and most used illicit substance (cannabis is still illegal on the Federal level).
Experts have understood for a long time that cannabis can wreak havoc on the developing brains of teenagers. Researchers associate heavy and prolonged marijuana use with cognitive dysfunction and increase the risk of use disorder development. Those who attempt to quit using the nation’s most popular drug can experience withdrawal symptoms; addiction treatment may be necessary for achieving abstinence.
At the Society for Neuroscience meeting, studies reveal that:
- Exposing unborn rats to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) reduced their resilience to stress in later life. (Cannabis is also the favored drug among pregnant women)
- Cannabinoid use among adolescent rats enhanced activity in brain circuits that regulate the formation of habits; such rats also showed physical alterations in the development of areas of the brain involved in self-control, making decisions, and planning.
- Mice with Alzheimer’s disease exhibited memory improvements and lost fewer brain cells.
The first two bullet points reconfirm what experts have contended. The last finding is evidence that some of the compounds in marijuana could be beneficial for patients with specific conditions. Today, medical marijuana is being employed for treating not only Alzheimer’s but also multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
“Today’s findings lend new understanding of the complex effects that cannabis has on the brain,” said Dr. Michael Taffe, who researches substance abuse therapy at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. He underscores the need for “a better understanding of the negative aspects as well, particularly for pregnant women, teens, and chronic users.”
Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment
Not mentioned at the neuroscience meeting is that more Americans than ever seek treatment for cannabis use disorder. Professional assistance can help individuals break the cycle of marijuana use disorder and begin a journey of long-term recovery. If cannabis use is impacting your life in negative ways, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center to discuss treatment options.
We accept Medicare and most insurance benefits for detoxification, inpatient rehabilitation, residential, and outpatient recovery services.