About a year ago we published a blog on marijuana, “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” (borrowed from the 1980’s campaign). We discussed our society’s 180 degree shift from once condemning the drug, to not just now accepting it, but in some ways encouraging its use. Cannabis is now being presented as a reasonable alternative to opiates for pain management. It is used in many different diseases. Its legalization, medicinally and recreationally, has now paved the way for possible legalization of psychedelic mushrooms in Colorado.
However, as we highlighted in our previous article, there are numerous neurocognitive and brain structure changes that occur in marijuana use.
In March 2019, another article was published in the American Journal of Medicine, “Marijuana’s effects on brain structure and function: what do we know and what should we do? A brief review and commentary”.
Here are a few highlight quotes directly from the 2019 article:
- Meta-analyses support observations that when compared with nonusers, regular users of marijuana have diminished executive function, attention, learning, memory, and motor skills that persist for varying times after abstinence occurs
- The regular use of cannabis is associated with a decline in short-term memory and cognitive function, poor school or work performance, mood disorders, and psychosis.
- Automobile accidents occur 2-7 times more frequently while using marijuana
- Cessation of cannabis use did not fully restore the diminished neuropsychological functioning present in those who began use prior to age 21.
- White matter, gray matter, the limbic system, and the cerebellum all showed abnormalities with cannabis use.
- The abnormalities noted in neuropsychological testing in adolescents who regularly smoke marijuana appear to correlate with abnormalities in functional brain imaging in areas of the brain normally facilitating them.
- Street marijuana now exceeds 10% THC on average, but illicit extracts of cannabis like has oils have much higher THC content and cannabis concentrated extracts may contain up to 80% THC.
- Chronic use of marijuana downregulates CB1 receptors (THC receptors in the brain), requiring higher doses for effect, and abstinence from chronic use leads to… withdrawal symptoms
Now, at least in Colorado, even though our pot-smoked brains are structurally altered and we’ve developed cognitive changes, Amendment 64 is funding our schools, right? Well, kind of. Virtually no marijuana money goes into school’s operating budgets. The money funds some maintenance and construction.
Total marijuana tax revenue for Colorado public schools was $90.3 million in 2017- 2018. Sounds like a lot right? That’s actually only 1.6 % of the entire K-12 public school budget (total- $5.6 billion).
Well, doesn’t marijuana sales make our state richer overall?