Scientific Evidence Against Smoking Pot: Teens and Brain Damage

Drug lords know that marijuana is the stepping stone to cocaine and heroin, often triggered when teen "highs" from marijuana diminish in intensity,

General observations:  While fixing the state's pension systems should have headed the list during the recent Lame Duck session of the General Assembly, other issues such as gay marriage, gambling expansion, and another attempt to legalize medical marijuana could topple any pension reform efforts.  

Fortunately the legal medical marijuana issue was sidelined for now, but much needed pension reform fell flat on its face. 

It was in 1970 when the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supported extensive research on marijuana which showed that marijuana IS highly dangerous.  Through the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana was classified as a Drug with "No Accepted Medical Use." 

Although the Schafer Commission report in 1972 recommended removing marijuana from the the scheduling system and decriminalizing it, President Nixon rejected its recommendation noting in a televised news conference on May 1, 1971, with these words: 

"I am against legalizing marijuana.  Even if the Commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation...I can see no social or moral justification whatever for legalizing marijuana.  It think it wold be exactly the wrong step.  It would simply encourage more and more of our young people to start down the long, dismal road that leads to hard drugs and eventually self-destruction." 

Increased teen marijuana use coincides with perception of drug

A downward trend in youth marijuana use seen in the late 1990's is no more.  Gaping holes opened up where once education resources were provided with the removal of The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, which focused on educating youth about the dangers of teen marijuana use, and the elimination of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program. 

A survey released on May 2, 2012 by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation, found an dramatic upward trend in teen marijuana use over a three year period from 2008-2011. 

Not surprisingly, the increase in teen marijuana use coincides with a softening of youth attitudes about the regular risk of marijuana use.  PATS (Partnership Attitude Tracking Study) data found that only about half of teens (51 percent) say they see "great risk" in using marijuana. This is down significantly from 61% in 2005.

The fact that perceived risk is still falling portends a further increase in marijuana use among teens. It doesn't help that the push continues here in IL to legalize medical marijuana under the guise that marijuana use poses no danger to youthful pot smokers, nor are there likely consequences from legalization. 

In high schools nationwide, as more teens conclude that marijuana is not a bad idea, a heavier burden must be placed on the shoulders of parents to play a more active role in protecting their kids from the health risks.  While it may be difficult for teens to clearly understand just how dangerous marijuana use can be for them, it becomes all the more imperative that those in contact with teens pay close attention to the warning signs and intervene, as early intervention is critical to helping prevent teens from drug abuse and addiction.  Of great concern is when parents see no harm in pot smoking and perhaps do so themselves. 

In past articles about marijuana, many comments were received as to why marijuana was given a bad rap and not alcohol.  Admittedly, alcohol which is legal, is not without its own consequences, but the THC found in marijuana stays in the system so much longer and in time through regular use produces damaging effects that super cede alcohol consumption.

THC substance in marijuana related to long-term neurocognitive effects

Neuroscience has shown that the human brain continues to develop into the mid to late twenties.  During the first decade of life, brain growth occurs mainly in the gray matter (neurons and dendrites) and during the second and third decades, it occurs primarily in the white matter (connectivity).

The main psychoactive substance in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can disrupt the development of neural pathways in the brain, especially in adolescents who are chronic marijuana users.  When connectivity is interfered with, there will be changes in higher order thinking and memory.  Even though some adolescents report being able to use marijuana without a major negative impact, they are not always aware of the deficits in learning and memory that are slowly taking place related to their use. 

According to John Knight, MD, Senior Associate in Medicine and Associate in Psychiatry, Children's Hospital Boston and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, "The earlier an adolescent starts smoking, the earlier the potential changes to brain structure and function." 

While there is conflicting information related to cannabis' long-term neurocognitive effects, there is no debate that adolescence is a very vulnerable time to put extraneous substances into the brain.  Daily use of cannabis in high school is associated with a six-fold increase in depression and anxiety later in life.  It can also lead to muddled brains and short term acute psychosis with symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and the loss of the sense of personal identity.  And contrary to popular belief, marijuana is addictive! 

What happens when smoking a joint?

As explained in "How does Marijuana Affect the Brain?": 

"When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.

Specific sites in the brain are acted upon by THC, called cannabinoid receptors, which kick off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the "high" that user experience when they smoke marijuana.  Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentrating, sensory, and time perception, and coordinated movement."

At the time of the "high," little of the THC absorbed into the blood of the lungs reaches the brain. The rest is stored in body fat and is gradually released back into the blood over many weeks.  When pot is smoked regularly a large supply of the THC accumulates in the fat, which produces a high steady level of THC in the blood causing continual sedation.    Because primary brain damage from THC occurs in the limbic portion (or emotional center) of the brain, a teen  smoking only two joints of pot per week could suffer severe emotional harm before damage to the intellectual functions becomes apparent.  These behavioral, rather than physical traits, include losing interest in school and extracurricular activities and withdrawal from family members.  Their friends are mostly other drug users.  Nearly 60 percent of regular marijuana users have at least one co-occurring disorder such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), depression, anxiety, or PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).  

Taking stock of the above confirms why the harm caused by smoking marijuana is highly deceptive.  As each joint  smoked affects the body for over a month. Its slow action often masks the harm that is taking place. Regarding marijuana and cancer patients, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy often die from infection because chemotherapy weakens the body's immune defenses.  Although THC is known to reduce the nausea experienced by chemotherapy patients, it can be dangerous to these patients because THC damages the immune system.

In regard to teen marijuana use when coupled with alcohol, THC allows a regular teen pot smoker to hold down a deadly dose of alcohol without getting sick, making marijuana the basic cause of teenage alcohol overdose deaths.  

Legalization of medical marijuana would lead to greater use, without benefits

Drug lords know that marijuana is the stepping stone to cocaine and heroin, often triggered when teen "highs" from marijuana diminish in intensity, as they gradually do, leading teens to experiment with other drugs for a bigger kick. 

As long as kids are deceived into thinking that smoking pot is harmless, they will innocently insure a steady supply of new recruits to replace the cocaine and heroin addicts who have destroyed their own lives through drug addiction.  Drug lords want to legalize pot to increase their supply of cocaine and heroin addicts.  
Legalization of medical marijuana would do little, if anything, to curb drug violence.  When states impose high taxes on marijuana, violent drug cartels simply undercut legal prices to keep their market share.  As with alcohol and tobacco, which are legal and taxed, the cost to society, should medical marijuana follow suit, would far out pace the tax revenue. 

Negative effects of hashish on Arab culture observed 700 years ago

In studying historical Arab literature relating to marijuana, Franz Lowenthall, Professor of near Eastern Literature at Yale University, observed how the Arabs 700 years ago recognized the very slow action of marijuana on the body when Arabs turned to hashish when Mohammed outlawed alcohol.  

Lowenthall shares the advice given by a thirteenth century religious leader, Sheikh Ali al-Hariri, to a hashish user: 

"He must give it up for 40 days, until his body is free of it, and for 40 more days until he has rested from it after becoming free."

Shouldn't it be obvious to us today that pot smoking, as did the Arabs 700 years ago, blunts personal and developmental growth before more teens are lured by false rhetoric that smoking week is TRENDY and safe to smoke?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Uugan bat January 09, 2013 at 06:31 AM
You are an idiot, sorry but you should do proper research and base your "facts" on actual scientific facts. Until then please stop spreading lies. The gateway theory is completely false. If I drink water before I drink beer, is water gateway drug? The only reason people doing crack/cocaine/heroine and other drugs is because the drug dealer sells all kind of drugs. If cannabis was regulated like alcohol/cigerrates, people wouldn't need drug dealer who also carries terrible drugs. Btw you are a drug user as well!!! When you use cigerrates and alcohol!
Steve S. January 09, 2013 at 03:00 PM
It amazes me that this piece of crap is in this publication, this woman's only agenda is to push her bs religious zealot crap, feeding information that is completely inaccurate and confusing. Commenting on what the Arabs thought of hash 700 frickin years ago has nothing to do with our society today. They also raped and stoned their women, maybe we should go back to that? I already unliked these pages on Facebook, I guess I'll have to tune out completely and start reading some real news. That sucks because I enjoy reading Moe's comments.
Steve S. January 09, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Nancy, guess what , the earth is round!!!!
Steve S. January 09, 2013 at 03:07 PM
"Shouldn't it be obvious to us today that pot smoking, as did the Arabs 700 years ago, blunts personal and developmental growth before more teens are lured by false rhetoric that smoking week is TRENDY and safe to smoke?" Nancy dear, please point out one legitimate statistic that shows anyone in the CURRENT world that states pot smoking is SAFE. You are flat out writing lies as though they are fact, this is dangerous propoganda and why someone hasn't recruited you into the modern Nazi party is beyond me. Why aren't you fighting for prohibition back, ban it all, it's all unhealthy, let's not give people choices, let's tell them how they should live, it doesn't sound very American to me.
Walter White January 10, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Fortunately, as we saw in the last election, her type is becoming more and more irrelevant in this country.
Carl Lambrecht January 10, 2013 at 08:27 PM
President Roosevelt around 1937 made marijuana illegal to protect us from this dangerous narcotic.
Margaret McCarthy January 11, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Isn't it interesting that "Liberals" "Progressives" as they style themselves are the first to call for censorship of any views, however well documented, contrary to theirs? Name-calling instead of facts to support their views are what they use in their nasty comments. Sort of shows the game they play and how illiberal they really are.
Steve S. January 11, 2013 at 03:36 PM
Well now that you are calling people names like liberals and progressive shows the game you play to, you name caller you. Her passive aggressive approach to offering information under the disguise of science is the problem. When dangerous persons such as Nancy and obviously now yourself offer and opinion and write under a title that say scientific evidence, I will call you out on it. People who don't have the ability to think for themselves such as yourself believe this crap without question and that's just too bad. I don't play that game. Show me where this is "well documented" in a legitimate scientific study that was done in this century. Notice Nancy has yet to comment, come to her defense, produce any facts or publications. You margaret have a serious problem. You divide people, you make 2 sides, them and us, you have no ability to problem solve or see the world in other peoples eyes regardless of your view. It it closed minded and yes, completely not progressive. The last time I checked progress was good. I guess its too late for you but I certainly hope the next generation is progressive and not regressive like Nancy and old Maggie here.
Steve S. January 11, 2013 at 03:37 PM
And to add to that Maggie, I never called her a name. You were the name caller. There now I called you a name
Nancy J. Thorner January 11, 2013 at 04:08 PM
To Steve S.: Maybe if you would take the time to do some research yourself, you would not be so quick to accept the notion that pot smoking is just fine and dandy, nor would you be so quick to allow your anger to erupt in uncalled ways against those who have taken the time to do research and have found marijuana to be a harmful drug that teens must be discouraged from using, instead of being told that smoking pot is a fine thing to do and has no consequences. You might try looking at the links below for the scientific proof you seem to demand. http://uodos.uoregon.edu/SupportandEducation/SubstanceAbusePreventionandStudentSuccess/Marijuana/tabid/83/Default.aspx http://alcoholism.about.com/od/pot/a/effects.-Lya.htm http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2012/02/22/33516-research-shows-adverse-effects-of-marijuana-on-teens-as-drug-use-among-students-appears-to-be-rising
Steve S. January 11, 2013 at 06:58 PM
As far as Nancy's article that she posted in the comment, thank you for proving my point again. Googling and science are not the same thing. Why is it so difficult for you to see that the drug, good or bad is not going anywhere, and that the real problem lies in the abuse. Why do people abuse, how do we stop it, how to we treat it after its there. Pot is not a gateway drug, that has not been proven so stop saying it. Why are you so afraid? The money spent on the drug war could solve a lot of abuse problems and allow good people to live healthy and productive lives. Not to mention the fact that if you did your google research there are also multiple uses for marijuana and other drugs that are very helpful outside of the casual use world, why deny science the ability to utilize these chemicals. You can thank painless dental visits on your friend cocaine. The guy who discovered that must have been working with Mary Jane first, then the gate opened.
Steve S. January 11, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Concentrate your fight on preventing the reasons behind why kids abuse drugs. A lot of time it's because they get confused by listening to people like nancy. She would rather demonize the product that open the door to speaking and educating children and adults on how to live positive instead if telling everyone that because Richard Nixon said it, it should be inscribed in stone. Nancy, even Nixon knew when it was time to stop talking and let the country/world progress, You should do the same.
Steve S. January 11, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Nancy, your thought process and scientific method I'd very outdated, change your method of fighting this war, become relevant and you efforts with go much further, do better research, pick better titles for your OPINION pieces. It parents today have your attitude good luck with trying to have your kid talk honest with you about what they have tried, not tried, or want to try. They would never open up to you leaving them more isolated and hence at greater risk of not only drug use but abuse. Kids don't pay attention to statistics, how can you not see this at your age.
Steve S. January 11, 2013 at 07:09 PM
And again nancy your reading comprehension is poor, I never stated anywhere that lot smoking was safe. You turn of words is the danger I'm talking a about, PlEase explain why you would state that I believe pot smoking is safe.
Steve S. January 11, 2013 at 07:11 PM
I am assuming that safe is the equivalent of "fine and dandy" to you
Carl Lambrecht January 11, 2013 at 09:55 PM
.You need to respect President Roosevelt position on narcotic marijuana.
Ed60062 January 14, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Steve, I don't see where Nancy is pushing her religious agenda. She certainly has strong opinions on the matter and she is entitled to express them. There are people on both sides of the pot issue. Rather than trying to censor Nancy you should be stating the facts as you see them. Marijuana has been studied for years and there are probably plenty of scientific studies to support you.
Steve S. January 14, 2013 at 04:37 PM
If you read about Nancy and her bio you will see where her motivations come from. I have stated numerous times I believe she has a right to her opinion, and I do NOT believe in censorship. I believe in "truth in advertising". It's her headline that bothers me. And the headline leads to people taking what she says and thinking it is fact when it is far from that. It is a bait and switch, and yes she is motivated by religion, she clearly states it in her bio, not by science and research. Just as she has the right to spew her thoughts, I would like her to see the light. I would like her to acknowledge that if all the pot left the world, that there would still be addicts and they would be using something else. If that is the case we are fighting and paying dearly for a losing battle. History shows, her way, is not working, it too expensive, and is NOT addressing the reasons why people search out these substances in the first place. We live in a pretty progressive area here and we don't need to take a step back in the recognition and treatment of addiction because Nancy has nothing better to do, in my opinion, Nancy's blog would be better placed in a right wing conservative religious newspaper, she would fit right it and no one would argue against her thought process. As far as the studies, I don't need to show Nancy facts that she won't read, she without a doubt would find my facts to be false.
Walter White January 14, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Last I looked he's been dead 70 years. Why is his position more important than anyone's who's living.
Carl Lambrecht January 14, 2013 at 05:08 PM
.Radical Atheists killed over 100 million people in the last century. This is not science.
Steve S. January 14, 2013 at 05:44 PM


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