03 February 2009

The Problem With Pot is Who Smokes it When

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. _LS
When an adult smokes pot occasionally for relaxation and social bonding, his body and brain are well capable of dealing with the drug effects. But for the still-developing brains of adolescents and young adults, the impact of pot smoking is a bit more complicated. The brain contains abundant cannabinoid receptors, with effects that are still being discovered.
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.

The findings are considered preliminary, however, and more research is needed to confirm the work. The results, announced today, were detailed in the Journal of Psychiatric Research last month. _LiveScience
It is quite likely that any developmental effects of cannabinoids on adolescent brains depends upon the specific genetics of the individual in question. Some high school and college students might tolerate cannabinoids well, while other students might find particular career or life pathways aborted or forestalled by early and excessive use of pot. Even in mature adults, marijuana smoking has short and medium term effects that make certain types of reasoning (mathematical and abstract thought) more difficult.

The greatest danger of psychoactive drug use is during the formative periods of brain development. From embryonic development through adolescence and into adulthood, the young brain should be protected from substances that might alter brain development, whenever possible. We are familiar with fetal alcohol syndrome, of coke babies, and of babies born addicted to heroin. But the effects of recreational drugs on the brain development of middle school, high school, and college users has not been well studied.

We do not completely understand the Obama zombie effect, which culminated in the election of a US President completely unqualified to do anything other than vote "present." We have seen how "academic lobotomy" and "psychological neoteny" contributed to the zombification process, but is it not also likely that interference with normal brain development by psychoactive drug use also played a part? Certainly a brain unable to think for itself is more likely to be influenced by media propaganda and zombie peer pressure. The next question to ask: "Is there life after Obama-Zombification?" More on that later.

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