Here’s What Potent Marijuana Does to Your Brain

By Arden Dier

Here's What Potent Pot Does to Your BrainA new study raises concerns for those who indulge in potent forms of marijuana. Researchers out of King’s College London and Rome’s Sapienza University studied brain scans of 56 patients who had reported an episode of psychosis and 43 healthy volunteers. They found that those who regularly smoked high-strength cannabis showed small changes in the region of the brain that sends messages between the left and right sides, reports the Guardian. The alteration in this region, called the corpus callosum, “reflects a problem in the white matter that ultimately makes it less efficient,” says neurobiologist Paola Dazzan. The brains of people who had never used cannabis or smoked less potent forms looked normal, leading researchers to conclude that high-strength versions, like skunk, may damage nerve fibers.

The UK Times reports the damage is similar to the effects of a concussion. “We don’t know exactly what it means for the person, but it suggests there is less efficient transfer of information,” Dazzan says, per Yahoo. So what’s doing the damage? Dazzan believes it’s the THC in cannabis; less potent varieties contain 2% to 4% THC, while more potent forms contain 10% to 14%. The chemical acts on the cannabinoid receptors found in the corpus callosum, according to a release. Though researchers haven’t proven cannabis is responsible for the changes, “it is extremely important to gather information on how often and what type of cannabis is being used,” Dazzan says. “These details can help quantify the risk of mental health problems and increase awareness of the type of damage these substances can do.” (Potent pot also raises your psychosis risk.)


Related Online CEU Course:

Medical Marijuana is a 3-hour online CEU course that presents a summary of the current literature on the various medical, legal, educational, occupational, and ethical aspects of marijuana. In spite of the fact that nearly half of the states in this country have enacted legislation legalizing marijuana in some fashion, the reality is that neither the intended “medical” benefits of marijuana nor its known (and as yet unknown) adverse effects have been adequately examined using controlled studies. Conclusive literature remains sparse, and opinion remains divided and contentious. This course is intended to present a summary of the current literature on the various medical, legal, educational, occupational, and ethical aspects of marijuana. It will address the major questions about marijuana that are as yet unanswered by scientific evidence. What are the known medical uses for marijuana? What is the legal status of marijuana in state and federal legislation? What are the interactions with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and suicidal behavior? Is marijuana addictive? Is marijuana a gateway drug? What are the adverse consequences of marijuana use? Do state medical marijuana laws increase the use of marijuana and other drugs? The course will conclude with a list of implications for healthcare and mental health practitioners. Course #30-86 | 2016 | 55 pages | 24 posttest questions

This online course is offered by Professional Development Resources, a non-profit provider of continuing education (CE/CEU) resources for healthcare professionals. Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).