Sunday, February 12, 2017

Early marijuana use associated with abnormal brain function, study reveals

The legalization becoming common due to recent referendums and state legislative actions.

A dried flower bud of the Cannabis plant. Credit: Public Domain

Does legalization make it safe? Has the Food and Drug Administration any jurisdiction over it's production or sale.

Marijuana is a mood altering molecule derived from a plant.  It has been popular as an underground treatment that reduces anxiety and creates distortions of sensory input (particularly visual). It increases appetite, and alters pain perception.  In the past regulation consisted of an outright ban on growing and usage.  During the past several years many states have legalized it's use for medicinal purposes by requiring a physician's signature.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in the world. Previous studies have suggested that frequent marijuana users, especially those who begin at a young age, are at a higher risk for  and , including depression,  and schizophrenia.
Dr. Osuch and her team recruited youth in four groups: those with depression who were not marijuana users; those with depression who were frequent marijuana users; frequent marijuana users without depression; and healthy individuals who were not marijuana users. In addition, participants were later divided into youth who started using marijuana before the age of 17 and those who began using it later or not at all.
Participants underwent psychiatric, cognitive and IQ testing as well as brain scanning. The study found no evidence that marijuana use improved depressive symptoms; there was no difference in psychiatric symptoms between those with depression who used marijuana and those with depression who did not use marijuana.
In addition, results showed differences in brain function among the four groups in areas of the brain that relate to reward-processing and motor control. The use of marijuana did not correct the brain function deficits of depression, and in some regions made them worse.
Of additional interest, those participants who used marijuana from a young age had highly abnormal brain function in areas related to visuo-spatial processing, memory, self-referential activity and reward processing. The study found that early marijuana use was also associated with lower IQ scores.
"These findings suggest that using marijuana does not correct the brain abnormalities or symptoms of depression and using it from an early age may have an abnormal effect not only on brain function, but also on IQ," said Dr. Osuch.
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Early marijuana use associated with abnormal brain function, study reveals
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