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Take a deep breath!

In 2012, a study at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) calculated that even smoking an individual joint every single day for 20 years might be benign, though most participants only smoked 2 or 3 joints each month. “I was surprised we didn’t see effects [of marijuana use],” said UCSF epidemiologist Mark Pletcher, who led the study.

One assessment of numerous epidemiological studies points to small sample size and poor study design as reasons for scientists’inability to nail down a link between cannabis and cancer risk. However many suspect that such a link doesn’t exist, and that marijuana can even have cancer-preventive effects. How are JustCBD gummies made? A 2008 study, as an example, suggested that smoking marijuana may reduce the danger of tobacco-associated lung cancer, calculating that folks who smoke both marijuana and tobacco have a lowered danger of cancer than those that smoke only tobacco (though still a higher risk than non-smokers).

But even Pletcher isn’t sanguine about marijuana’s effects on the lungs, and suspects that there might be long-term lung damage that can be hard to detect. “We really can’t reassure ourselves about heavy use,” he explained.

Your brain on drugs

There’s some evidence to declare that stoned subjects exhibit increased risk-taking and impaired decision-making, and score worse on memory tasks-and residual impairments have now been detected days as well as weeks after use. Some studies also link years of regular marijuana use to deficits in memory, learning, and concentration. A current and widely discussed report on the IQs of New Zealanders followed since birth found that cannabis users who’d started their habit in adolescence had lower IQs than non-users.

In this study, led by researchers at Duke University, “you can clearly see as a consequence of cannabis use, IQ decreases,” said Derik Hermann, a medical neuroscientist at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany who was simply not active in the research.

However, not 4 months later, a re-analysis and computer simulation at the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo countered the Duke findings. Ole Rogeberg contended that socioeconomic factors, not marijuana use, contributed to the reduced IQs seen in cannabis users.

Rogeberg’s conclusion counters a large literature, however, which supports a link between pot use and neurophysiological decline. Studies in both humans and animals suggest that folks who acquiring a marijuana habit in adolescence face long-term negative impacts on brain function, with some users finding it difficult to concentrate and learn new tasks.

Notably, most studies about them declare that while there could be negative consequences of smoking as a young adult, users who begin in adulthood are generally unaffected. This can be because of endocannabinoid-directed reorganization of the brain during puberty, Hermann explained. The intake of cannabinoids that comes with pot use could cause irreversible “misleading of the neural growth,” he said.

In addition to the consequences for intelligence, many studies declare that smoking marijuana raises the danger of schizophrenia, and may have similar effects on the brain. Hermann’s group used MRI to detect cannabis-associated neuron damage in the pre-frontal cortex and found so it was much like brain changes seen in schizophrenia patients. Other studies further declare that weed-smoking schizophrenics have greater disease-associated brain changes and perform worse on cognitive tests than their non-smoking counterparts.

But much of this research can’t distinguish between brain changes resulting from marijuana use and symptoms connected with the disease. It’s possible that cannabis-smoking schizophrenics “might have unpleasant symptoms [that precede full-blown schizophrenia] and are self-medicating” with the psychotropic drug, said Roland Lamarine, a professor of community health at California State University, Chico. “We haven’t seen a rise in schizophrenics, despite much more marijuana use.”

In fact, other research shows that cannabis-using schizophrenics score better on cognitive tests than non-using schizophrenics. Such conflicting reports might be due to the varying concentrations-and varying effects-of cannabinoids in marijuana. In addition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a neurotoxic cannabinoid that is accountable for marijuana’s mind-altering properties, the drug also incorporates a variety of non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), that may protect against neuron damage. Hermann found that the quantity of the hippocampus-a brain area important for memory processing-is slightly smaller in cannabis users than in non-users, but more CBD-rich marijuana countered this effect.

A dangerous cocktail?

While data supporting the harmful aftereffects of marijuana by itself are weak, some researchers tend to be more concerned about the drug along with other substances, such as for instance tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine. Some studies suggest, as an example, that marijuana may increase cravings for other drugs, resulting in its infamous tag as a “gateway drug.” A study published earlier this month supported this theory when it found that, at least in rats, THC exposure increases tobacco’s addictive effects. Furthermore, marijuana may not mix well with prescription drugs, as cannabis causes the liver to metabolize drugs more slowly, raising the danger of drug toxicity.

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