Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hazards of marijuana

I stumbled across an article about marijuana that reminded me of a Chaliceblog post a couple days ago about Michael Phelps , who recently admitted using marijuana. CC said, "My position has always been...
that non-cancer-stricken people should avoid smoking pot because it makes them annoying to be around on several levels, not because it is physically all that bad for them.

I think Michael Phelps is as good a bit of evidence as we're going to get for the second part of that opinion."

While one's ability to swim may not be affected, heavy marijuana use does cause physical damage to the brain, according to the article "Marijuana May Disrupt Brain Development" just published in
Live Science . "Using brain scans, researchers found abnormalities in areas of the brain that interconnect brain regions involved in memory, attention, decision-making, language and executive functioning skills.

The findings are of particular concern because adolescence is a crucial period for brain development and maturation, the researchers note.

"Studies of normal brain development reveal critical areas of the brain that develop during late adolescence, and our study shows that heavy cannabis use is associated with damage in those brain regions," said study leader Manzar Ashtari of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia."

While this study is preliminary and needs further investigation, its findings would be consistent with previous studies of mental function in marijuana users, such as the linked article, Up in Smoke: Marijuana Toasts Memory

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