NEW YORK, May 8 (UPI) — In a preliminary study, U.S. researchers failed to find damage to the developing adolescent brain had occurred in those who had used marijuana moderately.
Lynn DeLisi and colleagues from the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research and New York University School of Medicine used diffusion tensor imaging to scan the brain of 10 young people who had smoked cannabis during adolescence.
The participants were between 17 and 30 years old, and they said they had smoked at least two to three times a week for one or more years during adolescence and had no personal or family history of mental-health problems.
The study subjects were matched for sex, age and social class of parents with 10 controls who had not smoked marijuana regularly as teenagers.
DeLisi and colleagues found no significant differences in brain integrity and brain volume between cannabis smokers and non-smokers, but the study authors warn more research is necessary, both in a larger group of people and to see the effects of heavier use.
The findings are published in Harm Reduction Journal.
It’s important to note that this is preliminary and not comprehensive enough to rule out damage to adolescents completely, but this is interesting — particularly as the drug warriors are currently fond of claiming exactly this kind of damage.
It’s also important to note that the drug warrior argument that marijuana causes damage to adolescent brains is a red herring — marijuana legalizers generally do not favor unrestricted use of marijuana by adolescents (some kind of age restrictor is usually advocated). And legalization actually would likely reduce the use of marijuana by adolescents, given the experience in other countries and the better ability to create age restrictions for legal products.