THC – What are the Consequences of Smoking Marijuana?

“New research published on-line in advance of print in the journal Psychological Medicine, concludes that continued use of cannabis causes violent behavior as a direct result of changes in brain function that are caused by smoking weed over many years.”
Fields, R. D. (2016, March 26). Marijuana Use Increases Violent Behavior: 50-year study finds causal link between cannabis and subsequent violent behavior. Retrieved from:…
R. Douglas Fields is Chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at the National Institutes of Health, NICHD, in Bethesda, Maryland

“Smoking weed causes memory and learning difficulties. It dulls your thinking, problem solving, and physical coordination. And it can interfere with your thinking for days or even weeks after you smoke. So frequent users may operate at a lower level all the time.
Scientists still don’t know whether the changes marijuana makes to your brain are permanent.”…

“Marijuana smokers are five times more likely than nonsmokers to develop a problem with alcohol,” according to a Colombia University study of 27,000 adults (p. 15).
BottomLine Personal (2016, July 1). Pot smoking is linked to alcohol abuse. BottomLine Personal, 37(13), 15-16.

See: Michael E. Silverman’s answer to Does smoking weed cause psychosis?

CBS 60 Minutes ran interviews indicating prevalence of increasing prenatal exposure to THC, which negatively affects neurological development in the human brain, and the brain is not neurologically complete until the mid-20s. Just say “no” to recreational pot?

Beyond that:
1) Drugs (prescribed or illegal) and alcohol (toxic substances) achieve their intoxication effects through altering brain function chemically.
2) The human brain is not “fully wired” until the early to mid-20s, and the chemical manipulation of a brain (developing or otherwise) may have permanent effects on neural connections. (see Chaos Theory for the major effects associated with minor variations)

“EEG studies show that very long duration marihuana exposure might be associated with slowed cognitive processing.” ( And, there is an analogy between Russian Roulette and marijuana use, the bullet may or may not be beneath the hammer. If one is genetically predisposed, smoking marijuana as a teenager increases the probability of psychosis as an adult (Eagleman, 2011).

“A slight change in the balance of brain chemistry can cause large changes in behavior. … Substance abuse and exposure to a variety of toxins can damage the brain, modifying intelligence, aggression, and decision-making abilities” (Eagleman, p. 157). The four major classes of abused toxins (alcohol, nicotine, psychostimulants, and opiates) microscopically plug into the reward systems of the brain, causing the circuits to be “hijacked” and enslaved (pages 204-205). These toxins artificially stimulate “the mesolimbic dopamine system (and) have self-reinforcing effects, and users (as a worst-case scenario) will rob stores and mug elderly people to continue obtaining these specific molecular shapes” (p. 205). And, fatal results are possible; “A 14-year-old honor student from Northridge, Los Angeles, died this week after inhaling computer keyboard cleaner” (Straight-A teen dies after inhaling computer cleaner amid ‘huffing’ trend). And, bath salts are also toxic:

Wouldn’t be ironic if one’s intelligence (that facilitates their rationalization of drug/alcohol use) disintegrates noticeably as a result of this use? And, it would be even more ironic if one didn’t retain sufficient intelligence to determine that they are not as intelligent as they once were.

All mental processes are bio-chemical in nature. And, depression can be triggered by defective assimilation of sugar. One should not underestimate the effects of proper diet (minimal sugar and fat, avoiding processed and refined foods and soft drinks, minimal fast food; seek out vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, a small amount of whole grains, fish, poultry, and an occasional small amount of lean meat; but treat yourself occasionally), avoiding drugs (legal and illegal) and alcohol, and adequate sleep (consistent each day and preferably more than 7 hours), which are essential for optimal physical and mental functioning. ADHD can be treated in this way. And, meditation has been proven to reduce stress (many books are available). Also, self-absorption can be associated with some level of depression. The American Journal of Physiology (Sep 2011) explained how exercise improves memory, treats depression, and makes people feel better.

“A 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people who started smoking before age 18 showed a greater decline in IQ and cognitive functioning than people who started toking as adults. Even more: Heavy teen users—an average of four or more times a week—who continued to smoke as adults experienced an 8-point IQ drop. …

THC has what doctors and researchers know as biphasic activity. ‘At low doses it has certain effects, and at high doses it has opposite effects.’ … Someone using at the right dose could see medicinal benefits, too. But take in too much THC, and you can become irritable, even psychotic. ‘There are more emergency room admissions today than ever because of marijuana use,’ … simply because of the psychoactive side effects of the high THC content that the public uses.’”
(The Truth About Medical Marijuana)

Empirical research has indicated that even after 28 days “residual diminished brain activation is still observed after discontinuing cannabis use in motor cortical circuits” (Pillay, Rogowska, Kanayama, Gruber, Simpson, Pope, & Yurgelun-Todd, 2008, p. 22).

“(Empirical) results suggest that marijuana users display persistent metabolic alterations in brain regions responsible for ECF. It may be that marijuana users recruit an alternative neural network as a compensatory mechanism during performance on a modified version of the Stroop task. These differences in brain activity may be a common denominator in the evolution of maladaptive behaviors such as substance abuse and other neuropsychiatric disorders.” (Edreth, Matochik, Cadet, & Bolla, 2004, p. 914)

“To help reduce your chances of suffering from dementia:
* Do not smoke
* Severely restrict alcohol
* Avoid recreational drugs
* Avoid being overweight
* Try to exercise every day
* Restrict red meat, sugared drinks, sugar-added foods and fried foods
* Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
* Keep blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D above 55 nmol/L
* If you are overweight, pre-diabetic or diabetic, restrict all refined carbohydrates such as bakery products and pasta.”

Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine
November 29, 2015, citing:

* Memory (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 2011; 108(7): 3017–22)
* Brain size (Psychol. Sci, 2003; 14(2): 125–30; J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci, 2006; 61(11): 1166–70; Hum. Brain Mapp, 2013; 34(11): 2972–85)
* Blood flow to the brain (Stroke, 2013; 44(11): 3235–8; J. Hypertens, 2013; 31(12): 2400–9)
* Brain function in general (J. Magn. Reson. Imaging, 2013; 38(5): 1169–76)
* Brain function by preventing strokes (Stroke, 2003; 34(10): 2475–81)
* Brain function by preventing Alzheimer’s disease (Lancet Neurol, 2014; 13(8): 788–94)

“Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain,” by Dr David Eagleman, who directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law, Baylor College of Medicine
Edreth, D. A., Matochik, J. A., Cadet, J. L., & Bolla, K. I. (2004, November). Abnormal brain activity in prefrontal brain regions in abstinent marijuana users. NeuroImage, 23 (3). 914-920.
Pillay, S. S., Rogowska, J., Kanayama, G,. Gruber, S., Simpson, N., Pope Jr., H. G., & Yurgelun-Todd, D. A.(2008). Cannabis and motor function: fMRI changes following 28 days of discontinuation. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 16 (1). 22-32.

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