Some effects devastating
So far the evidence indicates that use of marijuana is probably less harmful overall than use of alcohol. That said, we still should ask just how much government should interfere in citizens’ lives “for their own good.”
We have folks in Costa Mesa who believe government should ensure that pot is easily available to all who want it “because it’s no worse than alcohol.”
We know a lot about the effects of alcohol on human organs and systems and its effects on human personalities and social systems. It’s largely negative information, which doesn’t mean that government should try to ban its use – that’s still a personal decision.
We don’t know nearly as much about the effects of marijuana on human bodies and psyches. This study (from Reuters), due to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that casual pot use causes measurable changes in brain structure for some people.
Young, casual marijuana smokers experience potentially harmful changes to their brains, with the drug altering regions of the mind related to motivation and emotion, researchers found.
“What we’re seeing is changes in people who are 18 to 25 in core brain regions that you never, ever want to fool around with,” said co-senior study author Dr. Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University.
In particular, the study identified changes to the nucleus accumbens and the nucleus amygdala, regions of the brain that are key to regulating emotion and motivation, in marijuana users who smoke between one and seven joints a week.
Pot legalization advocates make the argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol a central part of their campaigns.
Other research has found drinking alcohol alters the brain, Breiter said. But while researchers do not know exactly how the mental rewiring seen in pot users affects their lives, the study shows it physically changes the brain in ways that differ from drinking, he said.
This latest study fits with other research showing marijuana use has significant effects on young people because their brains are still developing, and Breiter said he has become convinced that marijuana should only be used by people under 30 if they need it to manage pain from a terminal illness.
The FDA certainly doesn’t take a laissez faire approach toward medicines — if anything, it’s the opposite.
A life-saving meningitis vaccine called Bexsero is slowly moving through the approval process despite approval in Europe, Canada, and Australia, and despite lives lost waiting. The FDA has also dithered over a drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a crippling and ultimately fatal children’s disease. While it is important to be sure that approved drugs are safe and effective, even limited safety and efficacy is a better option than doing nothing for these otherwise fatal diseases.
Yet for “medical marijuana,” which is also potentially fatal and possibly brain scarring, public safety relies on a store clerk advising customers to cut their cookies into sixths or eat only one bit of a piece of candy. (Article)