Heavy and prolonged use of marijuana changes the way the brain functions and can lead to poor memory, according to a new study -- but the study only used 10 healthy people with a history of cannabis use (it also tested 15 young people with a history of cannabis use and schizophrenia). Even the lead researcher admits that the changes seen could have resulted in marijuana use, rather than the other way around.
The study is being played up heavily in the mainstream press, with many of the news accounts not mentioning that only 10 non-schizophrenic marijuana users were studied. With future policy debates likely to reference this study as a reason not to relax the laws around cannabis, the credulous acceptance and lack of critical coverage of the study is quite unfortunate.
The study, based on data obtained from teens and young adults, was conducted by researchers at Northwestern Medicine, reports Nature World News. Researchers said they found chronic cannabis use led to poor growth of the brain region associated with memories.
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana helps patients with schizophrenia, according to new research from Canada.
A study published in the scholarly journal Psychiatry Research found that heavy cannabis users performed better on memory tasks than those who avoided marijuana.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans also revealed better brain function in an area responsible for complex thinking and decision making, reports TruthOnPot.com.
University of Montreal researchers studied 145 patients with a dual diagnosis -- "cannabis dependence" and schizophrenia -- and 14 patients with schizophrenia only. "Our results suggest that emotional memory and prefrontal lobe functioning are preserved in dual-diagnosis patients," the researchers wrote.
Researchers saw no difference between the emotional responses of the two groups during resting states, although patients were evaluated based on emotional memory.
The authors suggest that the better performance of marijuana users could reflect a "more general difference" in memory.