I personally think the “war on drugs” is a futile effort that has cost billions of dollars, eroded the civil rights of all Americans, enriched some very bad people, and done nothing to reduce drug use, so declaring victory and going home strikes me as a pretty good idea.
I do worry, though, at the nonchalant attitude towards marijuana that drug use advocates take, especially when study after study keeps showing serious, permanent brain damage to young people who smoke it. Here’s just the latest.
The age at which an adolescent begins using marijuana may affect typical brain development, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas. In a paper recently published in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, scientists describe how marijuana use, and the age at which use is initiated, may adversely alter brain structures that underlie higher order thinking.
Findings show study participants who began using marijuana at the age of 16 or younger demonstrated brain variations that indicate arrested brain development in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for judgment, reasoning and complex thinking. Individuals who started using marijuana after age 16 showed the opposite effect and demonstrated signs of accelerated brain aging.
“Science has shown us that changes in the brain occurring during adolescence are complex. Our findings suggest that the timing of cannabis use can result in very disparate patterns of effects,” explained Francesca Filbey, Ph.D., principal investigator and Bert Moore Chair of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the Center for BrainHealth. “Not only did age of use impact the brain changes but the amount of cannabis used also influenced the extent of altered brain maturation.”
Whatever the government’s role is here, and I suspect that the answer is “not much’, parents, at least, should be aware of what their kids may be doing to their brains with “harmless” marijuana.