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This is your Brain on Marijuana

What does a brain look like when it has been exposed to marijuana?

Researchers at Harvard and Northwestern University have reviewed the brains of drug users. They found surprises in the brain on marijuana. New research has discovered serious risks for casual teen cannabis users. Even users who smoke once or twice a week had structural changes in two significant regions of the brain. Additionally the analysis showed more significant changes in subjects who reported smoking more frequently or using higher potency of the cannabis.

All marijuana smokers in the research showed abnormalities in the shape, density, and volume of the nucleus accumbens. This is the area of the brain that is responsible for motivation, pain and pleasure, and decision making. The amygdala, which processes emotions, memories and fear responses, showed similar changes.

The New England Journal of Medicine has reported the relationship of high potency marijuana and mental problems like paranoia and psychosis. With teenagers, the rate of marijuana dependency is also at issue. While adults show marijuana dependency rates at about 9%, for teens the rate increases to nearly 20%.

Smoking Marijuana is a Risk for All Teenagers

Even casual users who party on Saturday night may develop cognitive deficits. The results of the current research showed smoking cannabis can include hindered studying, decline in focus when writing a paper or demotivation for studying.

Working memory is at the core of learning. Marijuana at its current potency interferes with this process. Your brain on marijuana risks cognitive opportunities that each student needs to succeed.