Your Brain on Marijuana
There is a great deal of argument about the effects that marijuana has on the human brain. While there are those who attempt to popularize the use of the drug as one that has few, if any, side effects, the scientific facts prove otherwise.
The image of the pot smoker as a harmless “flower child” that smiles most of the time and takes ages to respond to questions is a long-held one. This person is often thought to be harmless. He or she may be harmless to others, but is doing a great deal of harm to themselves. Scientific tests prove that smoking marijuana does affect the physical structure of the brain and this in turn affects a person’s cognitive abilities.
Marijuana has been proven to disrupt the body’s blood circulation, including the small veins and capillaries within the brain. The brain depends on a smooth flow of blood to be able to function in a steady manner. After marijuana is smoked, the blood flow within the brain is not a steady flow, but a series of spurts, like that produced by an inefficient water pump. This uneven flow, coupled with the chemical reaction of the marijuana leads to the “high” that the drug causes. Unfortunately, it also causes slower psychomotor speeds, reduced planning ability, loss of verbal coordination, and loss of comprehension abilities. In other words, marijuana reduces a person’s brain function.
This is not a short-term effect. Studies done at the University of Cincinnati and University of California, San Diego have shown that the reduced mental abilities can remain for nearly a month after the marijuana is smoked.
To balance this reduced cerebral function, the brain must operate at higher levels than it normally needs to. While this may, by and large, be not harmful, the effect of enhanced cognitive effort coupled with the uneven blood flow to the brain may result in not just cognitive dysfunction, but also physical damage to the brain cells.
In a scientific test, marijuana smokers were given some basic normal tasks to do. The test was given after they had been without the drug for an extended period of time. The results showed that while they were able to perform the tasks adequately, they were using the parietal and frontal cortices of their brain far above normal levels.
This clearly indicates that the marijuana smokers suffered from neurological damage that may not be easily noticed in the initial stages. But, as the blood supply disruption coupled with the increase mental efforts continues, the effects become more and more obvious and easy to see.
Other tests have shown that long term use of marijuana can cause serious psychotic illnesses. Marijuana smokers are 41% more likely to develop the symptoms of anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, hallucinations, and delusions than those who do not smoke.