Vol. 6, Number 11
November 2014
cheryl riley, James Freire,
Dr. David Bearman,
Gradi Jordan, Ed Glick,
Paul Armentano,
Sunil K Aggarwal,
Al Byrne, Amanda Reiman,
Jim Greig, Joan Bello,
Arthur Livermore
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Media Leaping to Extremely Faulty Conclusions from Study on the Effects of Marijuana on the Brain - Paul Armentano

A new study identifying minor differences in the brain imaging of habitual marijuana consumers compared to non-users may be ideal for stimulating sensational headlines (e.g., “Regular pot smokers have shrunken brains, study says,” Los Angeles Times, November 10), but tells us little in regard to whether pot poses actual health risks.

Specifically, an MRI scan revealed less gray matter in the orbital frontal cortex of pot-smoking subjects compared to those who had never used the drug. Researchers also identified increased connectivity between certain regions of the brain in regular marijuana users compared with non-users.

So precisely what do these findings tell us in regard to pot use and health? Not much. Since the study design is not longitudinal, investigators cannot determine whether these differences are caused by subject’s cannabis use, whether these differences existed prior to subjects’ ever trying cannabis, or whether these differences persist when users’ cannabis consumption ceases.

Most importantly, investigators in this study failed to determine whether any of these differences are positively associated with any measurable adverse performance outcomes, such as cognitive performance or quality of life. It may be that these cannabis users are functioning in their daily lives in a manner that is indistinguishable from controls, in which case the imaging differences may hold little if any real-world significance. (In fact, one of the paper’s authors acknowledged, “[C]hronic users appear to be doing fine.”)

Authors’ comments in regard to marijuana-using subjects' IQs also need to be taken with a grain of salt. Researchers noted that marijuana users in the study possessed, on average, lower IQs than those in the non-using group, a finding they acknowledged may be linked to a variety of factors other than pot use. This outcome would hardly be surprising. A review of a highly publicized 2012 study purporting to link adolescent pot use to lower IQ later in life determined that once economic variables were factored into the assessment, cannabis’ actual effect on intelligent quotient was likely to be “zero.” The findings of a previous longitudinal study from Canada that tracked the IQs of a group of marijuana users and non-users from birth similarly concluded, “[M]arijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence.”

Even if we are to accept the findings of this latest paper at face value, such concerns are hardly a justification for cannabis’ continued criminalization. Ultimately, if we are truly concerned about pot’s potential impact on the brain, and in particular how it may impact the developing brains of young people, the obvious public policy response is to regulate the substance in a manner that better restricts adolescents’ access to it and provides them with evidence-based information in regard to its potential risks. This is the policy we have employed for alcohol and tobacco, two substances that possess known risks far greater than those posed by cannabis, and they have been successful, as adolescent alcohol and tobacco use now stand at historic lows. It's high time we as a society employ a similarly principled policy for cannabis.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (Chelsea Green, 2009).

Original Article

Medical Marijuana: A Perspective - Arthur Livermore

During the 1970's, when I was a medical student, I was told that marijuana (cannabis) was only a drug of abuse. The knowledge of medical uses of cannabis had been lost. Thirty years earlier, doctors were knowledgeable about medical marijuana, but now it was a forbidden plant. It took me years of research to discover the medical uses of marijuana.

(The full article is available at the link below. The publisher: ABC-CLIO 130 Cremona Drive, Suite C, Santa Barbara, CA 93117, has requested the removal of this article.)

Arthur Livermore is National Director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, located in Arch Cape, Oregon.

This article is in the book by David E. Newton Ph.D., "Marijuana: A Reference Handbook" (Contemporary World Issues) 2013

Click here to buy "Marijuana: A Reference Handbook" by David E. Newton Ph.D.

Medical Cannabis
Educational Video Project

We are starting a campaign to support the Medical Cannabis educational video project. Please go to our donation page to support this campaign.

What's New

Alabama: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB642 - The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act of Alabama

Arkansas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Florida: Medical marijuana did not pass with 58% support

Idaho: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Indiana: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Iowa: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Kansas: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.
   Marijuana Bill Reaches House
   Cannabis Compassion and Care Act

Missouri: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HOUSE BILL NO. 1670 - An Act relating to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes
   Cottleville Mayor Don Yarber hopes Missouri legislature passes medical marijuana law

North Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act

Ohio: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 214

Pennsylvania: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   HB 1393

South Carolina: Considering a medical marijuana law.

South Dakota: Medical marijuana petition drive underway.

Tennessee: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Texas: Considering a medical marijuana law.

Wisconsin: Considering a medical marijuana law.
   The Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act

Featured Recipe - Arthritis Balm Recipe by Bryan A Krumm

Take 4 ounces of leaf marijuana and place in a large stock pot. Cover well with water and add 1.25 cups of olive oil. Bring to a boil and simmer at a low boil for 5-6 hours, adding water as needed.

Allow to cool and strain through cheese cloth, saving the liquid. Place the liquid into the refrigerator over night.

Peel the olive oil layer off the top and place into a small pot and heat over low to melt. Add some beeswax (1-2 ounces should work but experiment to get the consistency you like) and cool into a salve.

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Medical Marijuana States

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Arizona *
Colorado #
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Maine *
Michigan *
Montana *
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* States with reciprocity law

# States with legal marijuana

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