DRUGFREENJ.ORG – posted 4/30/2014 by Angelo M. Valente
With the ever changing landscape of the marijuana legalization debate and new stories being published on a daily basis, this statement bears repeating: studies show that even casual marijuana use causes changes to the brain.
According to a study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), casual marijuana users show abnormalities in the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens, two regions of the brain associated with emotion and motivation. Researchers found that these two structures in casual marijuana users are denser and differently shaped than in non-users.
Of course, further research is needed to determine what the long term effects of casual marijuana use are and to what degree these developmental abnormalities in developing brains are harming our kids. This study features a small sampling, only 20 subjects between the ages of 18 and 25, and researchers say they will need a larger amount of test subjects before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.
As a parent, knowing that a substance can alter the physical development of my children’s brains is enough to give me pause. Remember, a child’s brain continues to develop until about the age of 25. This study proves that mind-altering substances, such as marijuana, can and do cause developmental differences. While current research cannot say if they harmful differences are not, as a parent, do you really want to take that chance?
So the marijuana legalization debate rages on in Trenton and new studies and articles continue to be published regarding the political, economical, and social impact of this issue. As parents, all we can do is continue to be open and honest with our children about new findings such as these. Let them know what your expectations are when it comes to marijuana use. The debate will continue and so must we in the effort to keep our kids drug free.