Marijuana refers to the dried plant materials from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa (including the stems, seeds, flowers and dried leaves). The plant contains mind altering, psychoactive compounds and is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States. Statistics reveal a startling increase in pot consumption since the year 2007 among young adults of the population. Given the recent hue and cry to legalize Marijuana in a number of states including Washington, D.C., Oregon and Alaska, it is important to keep in mind the drawbacks associated with marijuana consumption.
According to latest research, smoking pot has irreversible side effects on the brain. The study which was published by the University of Texas studied the brains of marijuana smokers and found unintended abnormalities in the brains of chronic smokers, particularly those who smoked pot at least three times a day. The abnormality, it seems was related to the “reward system”, namely the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain which appeared to be significantly smaller. According to the lead author of the study Francesca Filbey, this is region that is responsible for helping us make sound decisions.
A startling observation further noted the higher functional connectivity of this region in order to compensate for the reduction in size.
The detrimental impacts associated with marijuana consumption have repeatedly been highlighted by a number of studies including an earlier Harvard study published in the Journal of Neuroscience which suggested that parts of the brain linked to motivation, namely the nucleus accumbens and the amygdale also showed visible impacts in people who smoked as little as four times in a week.
According to health experts, these are the most fundamental parts of the brain that are responsible for allowing individuals to ascertain their pleasure points in the world and identify things that are bad for them. In short, these parts help individuals maintain a sustainable lifestyle and to assess their decisions. The impact of marijuana consumption on these brain parts raises significant alarm for individuals and for health experts regarding its usage and more importantly its vast popularity and legalization.