Marijuana may not be at the top of the American people’s list of concerns, but it’s vital to stay up to date on current research. The end of cannabis prohibition in many states has led to a surge in scientific studies. There is a whole lot that we do not know about the dangers and benefits of marijuana.
Since cannabis use can lead to addiction and subsequent adverse effects, having all the facts can better inform treatment providers. Marijuana is a polarizing subject matter; as such, there is a lot of misinformation.
Several claims have been made that suggest weed can do wonders for people with severe medical conditions. In some cases, the assertions hold water, but others are unequivocally false. Weeding through all the material to find peer-reviewed research is an arduous task.
Given that more and more states are going to legalize both medical and recreational use, it’s paramount to inform citizens about the science.
New Research on Cannabis
Two new studies published recently present some interesting findings regarding medical marijuana, legalization, and the pathways to a cannabis use disorder. One study contradicts previous research, which claimed that medical cannabis reduces the rate of fatal opioid overdoses. The other seeks to explain why some heavy users become addicted, whereas others do not.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found no evidence that indicates opioid overdose deaths are reduced by the availability of medical cannabis, according to a press release. Moreover, the researchers found that states with medical marijuana had higher overdose death rates. The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“If you think opening a bunch of dispensaries is going to reduce opioid deaths, you’ll be disappointed,” said Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “We don’t think cannabis is killing people, but we don’t think it’s saving people.”
A separate study we’d like to focus on appears in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Researchers used brain imaging to observe the neural of cannabis users who viewed images associated with use (e.g., drug cues), according to Elsevier. All of the human participants were heavy cannabis users.
The findings indicate that people with heavy marijuana use, with and without cannabis use disorders, had exaggerated responses in a brain region called the ventral striatum. This area of the brain handles reward processing. The scans of those who had a cannabis user disorder also showed more significant responses in the area that forms habits—the dorsal striatum. What’s more, the researchers found that dependent users had increased responses in the regions that attach importance to things.
“Cannabis is now legal for medical and recreational use in many parts of the United States and the health impacts of this development are still being understood,” said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. “These findings are important insights that can help us better understand why some individuals might be more likely to become addicted to cannabis.”
California Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment
Marijuana addiction can take a severe toll and affect life quality. Those who meet the criteria for a cannabis use disorder tend to struggle in several areas of their life. Many who try to quit experience withdrawal symptoms that, if not managed professionally, lead to relapse.
If you or a loved one is having difficulty with marijuana, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our highly trained team of clinicians helps individuals break the cycle of addiction and sets them on a path toward long-term recovery. We invite you to take the first step and call us today for a confidential assessment. 866-273-0868