Two top health experts and doctors express deep concern about the extremely damaging short- and long-term impacts of marijuana use, as well as how Colorado youth face a tremendous disadvantage because of Colorado marijuana laws.
These experts highlight recent studies done on “smoked” marijuana, which contains much lower THC levels than Colorado’s marijuana. At low doses those impacts include:
Permanent changes to mental, memory, and cognitive processes
Increased incidences of psychosis and other mental illnesses
Reduction in motivation, reasoning, and judgement
Increased risk of suicide, anxiety, and depression
The fact that many Colorado youth continue to perceive marijuana as somewhat harmless is putting the health, well-being and futures of Colorado children and teenagers at tremendous risk, at an even greater risk than other youth in our country.
By Daniel Nebert, MD, and Andrew Monte, MD
Many of us have a family member or have known a neighbor’s child, who, at age 10 or 12, was excited about life and full of motivation and aspirations. The child then began smoking marijuana during adolescence. By age 20, this same child is now a “laid-back” young adult who has lost the goals and enthusiasm he once had.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the child first lose interest in life and therefore begin smoking pot? Or did marijuana usage during teenage years lead to loss of ambition and drive?
Scientists often use laboratory animal models to understand disease. In 2013, Maryland researchers demonstrated in mice that chronic marijuana exposure during adolescence permanently impairs mental processes of “awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment” and increases risk of schizophrenia. Numerous studies in rodents have shown similar results of irreversible brain damage.
Although research in rodents cannot always be extrapolated to humans, last January scientists in Switzerland showed convincingly that marijuana effects in mice are very likely relevant to humans. Using a highly precise neuro-imaging technique called voxel-based morphometry (VBM), the investigators measured specific brain cell changes in a group of regular cannabis smokers, compared with a group of occasional smokers matched by years of pot usage. VBM eliminates the large differences in brain anatomy among people. The image volume is then contrasted across brains at every voxel, so that local concentrations of gray matter (brain regions containing nerve cell bodies) between any two groups can be compared. [Read More]