WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

New Research: Marijuana use alters brain

I've noted before the seeming ideological inconsistency of many conservatives defending tobacco use and many liberals doing the same for marijuana.

Of course, one has to acknowledge that tobacco remains a completely legal product for adults, and the battle over tobacco has mostly involved countering unwanted second-hand smoke. The battle over marijuana has involved decriminalization, medicinal use, and possible sales of small amounts for recreational use. Tobacco is implicated in all sorts of cancers. Marijuana, much less so, and some marijuana enthusiasts argue it may actually resist certain cancers. The jury is still out on marijuana and cancer. Personally, I just can't imagine inhaling smoke from almost any substance is a good thing! Of course, marijuana is more like alcohol than tobacco when it comes to driving.

But, new research appearing in The JOURNAL of NEUROSCIENCE suggests even recreational use of grass physically changes one's brain. So now there appears to be an internal physical component to what many of us may have observed in college: The kids who regularly smoked pot seemed to be more lethargic, apathetic, etc., even when NOT smoking pot.

You can hear my interview with Dr. Hans Breiter, co-author of the new marijuana study, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science; psychiatrist & neuroscientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Science...

Audio Here


Posted at 7:47am on April 16, 2014 by Allan Loudell

<- Back to all Allan Loudell posts

Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Apr 16, 2014 7:59am
So "MaryJane" isn't the panacea they all thought it would be. No real surprise, especially when consumed by smoking. How good can ANY type of burning leaves be for your lungs?

If you've not heard the halarious routine Bob Newhart did back in 1962 where Sir Walter Raliegh is having a phone conversation with someone in London from the East India Trading Company trying to explain to him what tobacco is, take the 6 minutes and enjoy.


Wed, Apr 16, 2014 9:09am
Is this really "new research"?...or are people actually starting to look at what pot does now that it's being made legal across the nation?

Research has proven this point (pot dramatically alters the brain ESPECIALLY in "pre-adults") for at least a decade.

FYI...you no longer need to smoke grass (smoke/cancer risk). Brownies (and other "baked" products) are quite popular with the kids these days ;) And some "kids" use hi-tech vaporizer inhalers to go smokeless and avoid the giveaway smell...this is not the 1960s.

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 10:35am
Alter's the brain? So does formal education; so does getting married; so do cats. Out of those three, it is safe to say that marijuana probably does the "least" damage.

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 11:04am
On another note, saw that the Washington Post's ranking of high schools just has two Delawarean ones... Wilmington Charter at rank of 160 and Cab Calloway at rank of 813.....


Wed, Apr 16, 2014 1:18pm
Interesting summary of the paper. It is behind a paywall and I'm feeling cheap today so I just relied on the article and the abstract.

First a disclaimer: I am not a neuroscientist, just an engineer, so I will defer to the experts. Two things I noticed about the study

1). As in most medical studies, they studied two different groups of people. They looked at pot smokers and non-smokers. They did not study the same people before and after. So, did pot smoking change the brain structure of part of the group, or were their brains different to begin with? Does having a different type of brain structure make you want to smoke pot?

2) They say that they don't know the strength of the pot that the people smoked, only the number of joints per week. There's a big difference between a beer after work and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

However, think of what this means if it is a true effect. A drug that can change the structure of the brain. Right now, we use drugs administered daily to affect the brain chemistry of bipolar people. How about a drug that could permanently change their brains to eliminate this illness?

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 1:37pm
I love the final line in the article: "I've developed a severe worry about whether we should be allowing anybody under age 30 to use pot unless they have a terminal illness and need it for pain." Sure. Right. Having a law against people using pot has worked real well, hasn't it!

The only thing we know about Mr. Obama's younger days is that he was a pot smoker. It does not appear he suffered any long-term damage.

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 1:45pm
"The only thing we know about Mr. Obama's younger days is that he was a pot smoker. It does not appear he suffered any long term damage."

JimH: Was this sarcasm?...

Allan Loudell
Wed, Apr 16, 2014 2:05pm
Even absent the study, I thought about, perhaps, an even more central cause-and-effect question:

Are laid-back, lethargic people more inclined to smoke pot in the first place, or does repeated use of grass make these people more lethargic?

Allan Loudell

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 2:15pm
Mellow or pot-mellowed individuals...my non-scientific observation is that it's the second option.

Chicken/Egg...which came first? Creationists would say the chicken came first...Evolutionists would disagree.

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Apr 16, 2014 3:18pm
I'd say the second opinion is the correct view that repeated use of grass makes people more lethargic and apathetic, no scientific study to back that.

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 3:20pm
EarlGrey: Yes, that was sarcasm!

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 7:41pm
Since conservatives smoke 4 times more marijuana than the rest of the population, brain alterations could account for why they thought shutting down the government was a really good idea.....

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 8:40pm
Kavips: I don't smoke any marijuana and I think the government should STILL be shut down! Duh!

Wed, Apr 16, 2014 11:07pm
kavips: What are you talking about?... Most Conservatives are anti-pot squares, man.

Maybe President 0bama's many lies to the country are due to short-term memory loss and irreversible brain alterations from his youthful time spent with the Choom Gang... he just can't remember what he previously said to the public.

Thu, Apr 17, 2014 5:04am
Allan: To answer your above question, I believe the answer is both.

Thu, Apr 17, 2014 8:41am
Yesterday Sean Hannity (yes Conservative chatterbox Hannity) had a guest on his show "highlighting" some of the benefits of Colorado going pot-friendly.

Pot, just like coffee, has boutique blends...long story short one of the pot blends produces low THC (low/no high) but offers all the other good benefits for cancer (and other) patients. I thought it was funny that the original name given to this blend was something like Hippie's Disappointment...but was renamed Charlotte's Web after a young girl (who suffered thousands of seizures) used it and her seizures have all but disappeared.

Maybe Markell should get on the band-wagon for MEDICAL cannabis!

Mon, Apr 21, 2014 12:35am
Earl. Most conservatives smoke pot... Get out and walk around. Most liberals don't...

Mon, Apr 21, 2014 2:43pm
kavips: How do you know they're conservatives?...are they wearing bow-ties and suits? LOL!

I don't know any conservatives who still smoke pot (many did in their youth but not now)...the only people who I know that "spark up" are either Liberals or Libertarians.

Add your comment:
Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members Only Group username and password are required to process your post.

You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please click here.

Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.

Copyright © 2014, Delmarva Broadcasting Company. All Rights Reserved.   Terms of Use.
WDEL Statement of Equal Employment Opportunity and Outreach