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Marijuana and the mind

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Now that more states have passed laws allowing for more recreational (as well as medicinal) use of marijuana, red flags are being raised among the scientific community over the long-range effect pot smoking may have among teens who partake of it regularly.

“We’ve known that people who use marijuana when they are younger tend to have cognitive abnormities,” stated Stuart Gitlow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine in an interview with the Boston Globe. However, researchers have now determined that even casual use (a couple of times weekly) can alter the neural structures of the brain, especially among adults 18-25 whose brains are still evolving.

In fact, new research involving 40 individuals in that age range revealed that half the group who smoked approximately one joint a day exhibited changes in volume and density in their brains’ nuclus accumbents and amygdala (which control emotion, decision making and motivation), as opposed to the 20 participants who did not smoke any weed at all.

“These changes may be connected to a growing inability to focus and make rational decisions over the long-term,” added Hans Breiter, a psychiatrist at Northwestern University. “This is not an area of the brain you do not want to fool around with.”