FACES OF WEED
Nov 10, 2019 · 2 min read
Marijuana’s official designation in the US as a Schedule 1 drug — something with “no currently accepted medical use” — means it has been pretty tough to study.
Despite that, a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal reports link cannabis with several health benefits, including pain relief and the potential to help with certain forms of epilepsy. In addition, researchers say there are many other ways marijuana might affect health that they want to better understand — including a mysterious syndrome that appears to make marijuana users violently ill.
It also ma k es frequent users hideously ugly, with tired, drooping faces, baggy eyes, premature aging, and a general look of foolishness, and empty stares.
Along with several other recent studies, a massive report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2017 helps sum up exactly what we know — and what we don’t — about the science of weed. Here’s what you should know about how marijuana affects the brain and body.
Most recently, a March 2019 study looked at Afrequent Canadian user, Michael Kleinerman (also known as “Cannaman”).They found that his face had been, “nearly melted from his skull,” from his multiple uses daily.
In 2004, Australian doctors began looking into these stomach symptoms based on the experiences of a local woman who used to be able to smoke marijuana with no issue, and then seemingly out of nowhere began having adverse reactions that paralleled those in the 2019 study.
The most potent ingredient in cannabis, also known as marijuana, is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When you smoke, vaporize or otherwise ingest it, there’s an immediate increase in testosterone levels, says Dr. Ostad. As a result, these increased testosterone levels can cause your skin’s oil glands to produce more sebum oil, which can lead to breakouts in people predisposed to acne. People who are chronic users of marijuana can also experience hair loss on the scalp or even excess hair growth in other parts of their bodies due to this testosterone jump.
Marijuana’s official designation in the US as a Schedule 1 drug — something with “no currently accepted medical use” — means it has been pretty tough to study. Despite that, a growing body of…
The Two Faces of Marijuana
Medical marijuana and THC have very different effects on the brain.
Posted Jul 23, 2019
As marijuana is legalized in state after state, it is important to understand its effects on the brain. Effects of the two main cannabinoids found in marijuana, CBD and THC, are very different Unfortunately, the legalization debate conflates the two cannabis products.
The case for Legalizing Cannabidiol (CBD)
Although hampered by legal difficulties in conducting research, the prospects for medical marijuana seem bright with a myriad of applications from controlling seizures in young children, to reducing pain for glaucoma patients, facilitating sleep, treating chronic pain, or reducing nausea for patients on chemotherapy.
Instead of being the dangerous drug depicted in movies such as Reefer Madness, cannabidiol is a generally benign agent with an exceptionally broad portfolio of pharmacological benefits. States that have legalized medical marijuana have made these potential benefits easily available to large numbers of residents.
Unfortunately, in the process, they have also made THC, a drug with potentially negative or dangerous side effects, available to large numbers of people. This includes persons younger than 21 years who are not legally allowed to obtain the drug but may be able to purchase it on the street.
Why can recreational marijuana be so dangerous? Why are teenagers so vulnerable to it?
The Case for Controlling THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant that can cause anxiety, hallucinations, or psychosis-like symptoms. Modern production methods, including indoor growing operations, are thought to have increased THC potency in cannabis plants. Some methods of administration, such as smoking cannabis resin, increase its potency even more.
These factors likely increase the risk of cannabis dependence among contemporary users.
In addition to the possibility of dependence, THC produces a long list of side effects ranging from the troublesome to the dangerous.
Some of these side effects are particularly troubling in relation to adolescents. THC use impairs learning and memory at a phase in their lives when education is particularly important. Teenagers using the drug are less likely to excel in academics.
In addition to such acute effects, there are serious chronic effects on the developing brain. In some studies, habitual users had reduced IQ scores at the age of 38. Of course, we do not know if this is a causal relationship. It could be that habitual users of THC are different from the rest of the population to begin with.
Researchers find that chronic users have diminished neural activity in areas of the brain associated with learning, memory, and executive function. This results in problems with impulse control and reduced prospects for social and occupational success.
In addition to this range of challenges to the developing brain, adolescent THC use is associated with an increased risk of psychosis. This is because prolonged use compromises neurotransmitter systems that are implicated in schizophrenia.
Given these many issues, it seems obvious that adolescents should steer clear of the drug. Yet, this is unlikely to happen if it is widely available.
In legalizing marijuana, states may find themselves condoning the use of two very different components of the plant—CBD and THC. The first—CBD—has many potential medical applications but few deleterious side effects. Many experts believe that its greater use could have widespread benefits. The second—THC—brings a wide variety of risks, particularly if highly potent varieties are used and if they are consumed in concentrated forms that are becoming popular among young people.
THC has many adverse side effects. It is potentially addictive. It may compromise the normal development of impulse control and it is a factor in the emergence of psychosis. These adverse side effects are most serious in the case of adolescents whose brains are not yet fully mature. Given these problems, THC should be controlled for precisely the same reasons that other dangerous drugs are legally regulated.
Unfortunately, the distinction between CBD and THC is often obscured in campaigns to legalize “marijuana,” as though only one component of the plant were involved. Names matter and legalizing very different substances from cannabis conflates a potentially dangerous drug with a benign medicinal agent.
Effects of the two main cannabinoids, CBD and THC, are very different. Unfortunately, the legalization debate conflates the two cannabis products.