[FOCUS] Cannabis use does NOT cause brain damage




Cannabis use does NOT cause brain damage
The advocates of the banning of cannabis often argue, when participating in the current debate on cannabis, that occasional consumption of cannabis causes brain atrophy. They also say, it causes psychosis or, even better schizophrenia. This rumor about brain shrinkage first occurred in a study conducted in 2014. However, the study from which such sensationalist claims refer to, is not a long term study, but only gives a temporary synopsis of a complex situation. Moreover, the study was conducted with very few participants. Researchers themselves insisted on the importance of the starting age and that their discoveries cannot be reduced to such a simple expression.


Various studies on cannabis and intellectual performances

The Boulder University in Colorado published earlier last year a study that should then prove the exact opposite, that cannabis does not cause brain atrophy. And there is now a second publication that corroborates the first.

The most recent of these studies, published in August 2015 in “JAMA Psychiatry” was interested in the influence of cannabis on parts of the brains of 1500 subjects. It also proves what the famous University of Harvard already discovered in 2003: Cannabis use does not affect the volume of the brain.

In the Harvard study, 22 big cannabis users, who smoked on average a total of 20 100 joints in their lives, were compared with 26 abstinent subjects. No differences were found between the two groups, both in the volume of gray and white matter of the brain, in the cerebrospinal fluid or in the hippocampus left and right. At the time, the authors have concluded: “These results consistent with the most recent publications, which demonstrate that cannabis use is not associated with structural changes in the brain as a whole and hippocampus’ in particular.”

Madeline Meier researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina followed 1,037 people in Dunedin, New Zealand participating in the study since they were born in 1972-1973. She examined and interviewed them several times during their lives. The study published in 2012 is the most eloquent argument to date regarding the relationship between cannabis use and mental performance. One of the people responsible for the study, Terrie Moffitt, a professor at the Institute of Psychiatry of King’s College London, told the BBC: “This is such a particular study, that I am quite certain that cannabis is safe for the brain over 18, but risky for those under 18 years.”The results of his work made the headlines (in Germany) with the Press (International) in 2012, emphasizing on the harmful nature of cannabis for children and adolescents with slogans like “Dumme Kiffer” (Stupid cannabis smokers). The conclusion of the study itself (“Cannabis is safe for adults, but not for adolescents “) hardly interested anyone. Instead, even in the left wing daily “Taz”, could  read: “Kiffen macht dumm” (smoking marijuana makes you stupid).



Does smoking cannabis make you schizophrenic?

The second shocking  argument that opponents of regulations use to prevent a sound debate concerning the issue of drugs is that they cause schizophrenia. There is a new study in “JAMA Psychiatry” on that as well: young men and adolescent boys in particular should definitely not smoke cannabis at all or on very rare occasions, in order not to impair with their brain development. The study found that regular consumption of cannabis among under aged male adolescents during brain development could cause alterations that can influence the thickness of the cerebral cortex.

The question of whether (and how) there is a link between the development of the cerebral cortex and the development of schizophrenia is controversial among scientists also. But again, these are children and adolescents; this effect has not been proved in adults. The famous Harvard Medical School released a study in 2014 which concluded that schizophrenia had nothing to do with cannabis, but rather with family background. “In summary, we can say that cannabis in itself does not trigger psychosis “as stated in the study. In genetically susceptible individuals, cannabis could influence the, severity and evolution of psychosis. It’s the reason why further studies are needed on the subject.

Anyway, weed consumption is by no means a trigger. This is exactly what the authors think of the latest study, which was published on early August 2015. The same result attests that there is “no relationship between adolescent cannabis use and psychosis, cancer or other health problems.” One of the few experts in the field of cannabinoids in Germany, Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen said in the Huffington Post: “For adults, there is no evidence that cannabis is harmful. The developed brain does not suffer any damages»


Cannabis has already been the subject of numerous studies, only nobody wants to know.

It seems that with cannabis, for each study, there is a counter study. Thus, the legislator save time without having to act. Indeed, cannabis has been relatively well studied and is even, on the medical aspect, one of the most studied plants. According to the specialized magazine “Medicinal Research Reviews” there were already in 2008 more than 15,000 studies or scientific work on cannabis or cannabinoids. According to information by Paul Armentano, director of NORML, this figure even exceeded 20,000 in 2010. Yet it took Sativex, a Spray cannabis for patients with multiple sclerosis plates, six additional years after its approval in Canada and additional studies, before being allowed in Germany in 2011.

The same cannabis heads Bedrocan purchased at the pharmacy are strictly regulated and, unlike Germany, they have long been an official drug in the Netherlands. This is why even Dronabinol, the first drug with cannabis in Germany has a special status compared to other drugs and is still not considered a real drug, 20 years after its release. Policy makers and the public health system regularly refer to alleged lack of clinical trials. These are allegations because between 2005 and 2009, 37 controlled studies on the therapeutic use of cannabinoids were carried out: nine of them attest relief on the spasms for multiple sclerosis, four show a relief of symptoms and increased appetite in cases of HIV / AIDS, four show relief for chronic pains, two focus on the effects of cannabis on the dysfunctions of the intestine. In addition, two studies focus on cannabis in cases of nausea and vomiting, two on cannabis and schizophrenia, glaucoma, as well as two other
directions. Since then, more than one hundred studies have been added as part of regulatory models.

A large number of these medical expertise proves the medical benefits of the natural grass or the preparations of cannabis, but they are very largely ignored in Europe. A double-blind study of “cannabis in cases of neuropathy” in California showed very promising results. Researchers even see in cannabis a very effective drug in the context of this disease, with limited side effects.

A relatively recent German study on the efficacy of cannabis against the proliferation of tumor cells or the effectiveness of the CBD in cases of Alzheimer’s disease aroused great interest among American doctors, while here (in Germany) a large part of the medical profession still wonders even if it would be possible to prescribe to cancer patients in terminal phase drops containing THC, without having trouble with the healthcare services. We’re talking about a drug that was available in all our pharmacies until 70 years ago, without causing health problems or even death, like other drugs that are still legal.
Cannabis seems to help more people

Cannabis is certainly not a miracle cure, but it seems to help more people than is admitted until now. Germany conduct very little research on the matter, and at the same time, it ignores the results of other countries. These elements should have the effect that the rigorous regulations, for medical and recreational cannabis, be immediately more flexible.

No need for further studies with teenagers smoking cannabis to understand that weed should not be put in the hands of children or adolescents; we would rather need a convenient law that allows regulation of cannabis, without threatening the youth. But the federal government does not play the game, as it was recently stressed by the German delegate on drugs, Marlene Mortler.


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