The Drug Class Blog

Nov 24

Marijuana More Info

I had a great chat with one of the kids I work with yesterday,  she spent a long time telling me how much better she felt when she wasn't smoking weed, she had realized how much it changed her, it made her irritable, dishonest, and was damaging her relationships,  the thing that bothered her the most was that she figured out that she didn't really care about anything when she was using.  She is 15, lucky to figure it out so young!!  

Anyway one of the side comments she made was that it is so much easier to buy weed than it is to buy alcohol.  That made me think that I should share this article.

Early marijuana use linked to brain problems later in life

Jarret Morrow | November 21, 2010 |

Early use of marijuana maybe more harmful than previously realized. According to new research, early users of marijuana may face cognitive difficulties compared to those who start using marijuana later in life or not at all. Specifically, young adults who being smoking marijuana prior to the age of 16 performed worse on cognitive testing when compared to those who’ve never smoked marijuana before or those who starting smoking after the age of 16 says researcher Staci Ann Gruber, PhD, of Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, Boston. Findings from Dr. Gruber’s research was presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego. Though previous studies have found that early marijuana use can lead to cognitive problems, this is the first study to compare early users to late users. Gruber also noted, ”Early-onset smokers smoked twice as often and nearly three times as much.” For her research, Gruber compared 35 chronic marijuana users and compared them to 28 healthy volunteers. 2o of the chronic marijuana users started smoking prior to age 16 while the remaining 15 started afterwards. The cognitive testing was evaluated using the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task which is a measure of one’s executive function. Executive function includes involves tasks such as abstract thinking, planning, and decision-making. The healthy volunteer group outperformed both groups of chronic marijuana users on several measures. Early-onset smokers did worse than late-onset marijuana smokers in terms of making significantly more errors. Francis Jensen, MD, speculates that marijuana exposure ‘is somehow modifying the way that part of the brain [the prefrontal cortex, involved in executive function tasks] is developing.” The prefrontal cortex is one of the last areas of the brain to fully develop which may make teens particularly susceptible. Early Marijuana use and Educational Achievement? In other related news, New Zealand researchers recently published a meta-analysis based on 3 Australian cohort studies involving 6000 participants which looked at educational outcomes following different ages of marijuana use [2]. The New Zealand researchers found that there is a robust association between age of onset of cannabis use and subsequent educational achievement. Educational attainment was highest for those who had not used cannabis by age 18 and lowest for those who did use cannabis prior to age 15. Oddly, the researchers noted that the data suggests that there’s a greater detrimental effect of cannabis use on university enrollment in males than females. From the study authors: Pooled estimates suggested that early use of cannabis may contribute up to 17% of the rate of failure to obtain the educational milestones of high school completion, university enrolment and degree attainment. Sources: WebMD Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Aug 1;110(3):247-53. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

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