By Dr. Vincent Fortanasce

A recent collaboration between researchers at Harvard and Northwestern University is revealing the effects that marijuana use has on the developing brain. Dr. Jodi Gilman and her colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine have compared recent brain scans of 20 marijuana users, ages 18-25, with 20 non-users.

The results of the study indicate that marijuana users have structural differences in two key brain areas, the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. Dr. Gilman’s study indicates that the nucleus accumbens and amygdala in marijuana users has increased density, different shape and different volume, than those of non-users. A coauthor of the study Dr. Hans Breiter states that the nucleus accumbens “. . . is at the core of motivation, the core of pleasure and pain, and every decision that you make.” The amygdala is responsible for processing emotions, memories and the fear responses of the brain. Dr. Gilman speculated that “it could mean that there’s some sort of drug learning taking place.” The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahyrdocannibinol or “THC”. Data indicates that the concentration of THC has been increasing since the early 90’s to today, from a mean of 3.5% in 1993 to 13% in 2013. Recently an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicated that high levels of THC are linked with paranoia and psychosis and that there has been a sharp increase in emergency room visits linked with marijuana use, from 66,000 in 2004 to 129,000 in 2011. Another long term study showed that teenagers who were dependent at age 18 and who continued to use into adulthood had a decrease in their I.Q., an average of eight points, by 38 years of age. Marijuana has been shown to disrupt focus, impair working memory, decision making and motivation for about 24 hours. Dr. Breiter is quoted as saying “If I were to design a substance that is bad for college students, it would be marijuana.”

In the 1960’s LSD was sworn to be safe by Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary. In my era Valium too was distributed as a panacea. Though Heroin’s effects have been well documented, the great father of psychiatry Sigmund Freud felt it was a panacea and took it himself. Narcotics used to eliminate pain are now noted to cause a decrease in the pain threshold by long term and permanent effects on the Mu receptors needed to control pain.

The case against drugs effects on the brain is unequivocal. Why would anyone believe marijuana is any different? Now science based evidence from Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital verify this with functional MRI studies showing marijuana’s effect on the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala, two centers for potential drug addiction, motivation, and anxiety centers.

It is clear the short term beneficial effects of these drugs are outweighed by their long term causation of addiction, dependency, decreasing memory while increasing anxiety. They completely cause the individual to become a drug addicted purposeless addict. Yes, alcohol in excess is the same and should not be used as an excuse to allow other addicting drugs, as is often argued.

Marijuana is the equivalent of Soma in Brave New World that kept populous at bay – that made them complacent, unmotivated and putty in the hands of those in control. It is clear those advocating Marijuana are addicted either physiologically or psychologically themselves, it is the blind leading our innocent youth. Why are we still debating and permitting our youth to use a drug that will destroy their minds, intelligence, and individuality?