A new study by Australian researchers into the effects of heavy Marijuana use have returned some interesting results. Heavy users showed reduced size in specific areas of the brain as well as earned lower scores than the nonusers in a verbal memorization test.
Brain scans showed the hippocampus and amygdala were smaller in men who were heavy marijuana users compared to nonusers, the researchers said. The men had smoked at least five marijuana cigarettes daily for on average 20 years.
Now, I’m a bit biased in this debate, but isn’t that a bit too heavy? 5 joints daily for 20 years? Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Bruce Mirken seems to agree with me saying, “These were people who were essentially stoned all day every day for 20 years … This study says nothing about moderate or occasional users, who are the vast majority — and the (study) even acknowledges this.” Mirken follows with, “The documented damage caused by comparably heavy use of alcohol or tobacco is just off-the-charts more serious, and you don’t need high-tech scans to find it.”
It is a bit excessive a study group. Even most ‘daily’ users I’ve met never hit the 5 joint mark every day. I think a more moderate-use study would be more informative overall as well as a more controlled experiment to weed out other possible causes. In the end though, the researchers had and have the best of intentions saying, “With nearly 15 million Americans using cannabis in a given month, 3.4 million using cannabis daily for 12 months or more and 2.1 million commencing use every year, there is a clear need to conduct robust investigations.” With that, I whole heartily agree. More research is definitely needed. And I, for one, will be doing my part.