Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?

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Does Weed Kill Brain Cells?

Just like other substances, prolonged marijuana use can influence brain activity. Marijuana can cause people to forget details and have trouble focusing as a short-term effect. For someone who uses marijuana frequently, these symptoms may remain permanently. However, research is still preliminary on the extent of marijuana’s impact on the brain.

The American political system has debated over the past couple of years whether to legalize recreational marijuana use or not. The cannabis industry is booming, with many consumers enjoying the seemingly harmless substance. There are states that have legalized its recreational use, while others are still debating if there are negative consequences to legalization. Scientists, politicians, and consumers alike are all wondering, is marijuana truly as harmless as it seems? Currently, in America, over 11.8 million teenagers are using marijuana as well as 48.2 million adults. Weed is quickly becoming the substance of choice for many, especially teenagers. Looking at the trajectory of marijuana, some wonder whether it’ll be like nicotine which seemed consequence-free until years later. Will marijuana have a similar trajectory in 20 or 40 years when the data and research catch up with its use? Or is it truly as safe as it seems?  

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Marijuana is often referred to as “nature’s medicine” since it is derived from the cannabis plant. Its plant origins make the drug seem harmless, and users feel comfortable experimenting with it. It is also deemed a safer alternative to other recreational substances such as alcohol and even everyday painkillers. Unlike alcohol, marijuana doesn’t have a hangover effect the next day or impair the user’s daily functioning. This has made the drug popular and has turned many users into frequent users. There is even a slang term for those who are high all day, “wake and bake”. Like alcohol and nicotine use, marijuana is quickly becoming a norm amongst the American population.

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How Does Weed Interact with the Body?

Throughout the body, there are cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system.  The system is responsible for regulating a range of functions in the body, such as memory, sleep, and reproduction. When weed enters the body, the cannabis in it mimics the naturally occurring endocannabinoids in the body. This allows them to connect to endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body and activate them. Like any substance, once the body becomes dependent on cannabis, it won’t produce as many cannabinoids on its own. This can cause marijuana use disorder where the body becomes dependent on marijuana.

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Short And Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use On The Brain

The short-term effects of marijuana may be.

  • Difficulty judging distances
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Possible long-term effects can include.

  • Some cognitive impairment
  • Some memory loss
  • Increased Marijuana tolerance
  • Marijuana dependence

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Marijuana Research

Research has shown that consistent marijuana use during adolescence can impact cognition. Studies done on adolescent rats showed changes in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for long-term memory, from marijuana use. Additionally, they discovered differences in their reward systems. The rats were likelier to seek extreme pleasure if given the opportunity (such as heroin). While this study was never conducted in humans, it indicates what effects marijuana may have on the human brain.

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Imaging of Marijuana in the Brain

Scientists have been studying images of the brain on marijuana to determine whether it affects the brain or not. The studies have come inconclusive and conflicting as of now. However, a correlation has been found between age and duration in those impacted by marijuana use. In younger users, marijuana is more likely to influence the brain.  

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IQ Study on Marijuana Use

A longitudinal study conducted in New Zealand on marijuana use found a correlation between teenagers who used marijuana and a few points lower IQ in adulthood. This only occurred in those that were heavy marijuana users from adolescence. The study also did not control for other factors, which is likely accurate but isn’t guaranteed.

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Currently, the jury is out on whether marijuana use in adults can cause any long-term effects. However, in teenagers, it seems clear that there is a substantial downside to marijuana use. More research is needed for the public to grow knowledgeable in marijuana consumption. Another strong reason to stay away from marijuana use is the risk of laced weed. If you use marijuana regularly, protect yourself by learning how to test weed for fentanyl. If you have any concerns or queries related to marijuana addiction, our team is available to assist you. Contact us today for professional guidance.

To learn more about marijuana, including the signs that someone is high on weed, read our online resources.

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