Does Researching Casual Marijuana Use Cause Brain Abnormalities?

Last week, a study was published that claimed to establish a link between casual marijuana use and abnormalities in the brains of recreational users. Intrigued by a claim made by one of the paper’s authors in the wave of ensuing press coverage, UC Berkeley computational biologist Lior Pachter decided to take a closer look.

From 109.com In reading the news last week I came across multiple reports claiming that even casually smoking marijuana can change your brain. I usually don’t pay much attention to such articles; I’ve never smoked a joint in my life. In fact, I’ve never even smoked a cigarette. So even though as a scientist I’ve been interested in cannabis from the molecular biology point of view, and as a citizen from a legal point of view, the issues have not been personal. However reading a USA Today article about the paper, I noticed that the principal investigator Hans Breiter was claiming to be a psychiatrist and mathematician. That is an unusual combination so I decided to take a closer look. Continue reading

Marijuana Rated Most Effective for Treating Fibromyalgia

From National Pain Report

April 21st, 2014 by Pat Anson, Editor
Medical marijuana is far more effective at treating symptoms of fibromyalgia than any of the three prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the disorder.

That is one of the surprise findings in an online survey of over 1,300 fibromyalgia patients conducted by the National Pain Foundation and National Pain Report.

The FDA has approved only three drugs – Cymbalta, Lyrica and Savella — for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Although they generate billions of dollars in annual sales for Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories and other drug makers, most who have tried the medications say they don’t work. Continue reading

No, Weed Won’t Rot Your Brain

The ‘marijuana will rot your brain’ debate: neurological differences don’t necessarily mean impairment

From Boing Boing
There’s a new study out that’s being touted as proof that marijuana makes you dumb. But, while the results do show differences in the brains of people who smoked pot, the conclusion about what that means is seriously flawed, writes Maia Szalavitz at The Daily Beast.

Most of the time, it’s difficult to explain why scientific research or a conclusion about research results is flawed. That’s not the case here. You only have to understand two concepts: “normal” and “healthy”.
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From Daily Beast

Can casual marijuana use damage the brains of young adults? A new study says yes—but its participants suggest otherwise.

All across the Internet, headlines are screaming Buzzkill and Marijuana Makes Young Brains Go to Pot. But a new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, does not in any way prove that casual marijuana use is bad for your brain.

In order to understand why, all you need to do is actually read the research—and be able to think a bit critically. You don’t need to know anything particular about fMRI or any other scary acronyms and you don’t need to know your amygdala from your Shatner’s Bassoon. You don’t even need to know any statistics.

Continue reading

Alaska Pot Legalization Campaign Will Donate to Opponents if They Can Prove Alcohol Is Less Harmful Than Pot

By: Jon Walker for FireDogLake

This is one of the better political stuns I’ve heard about in a long time. The Alaska marijuana legalization ballot initiative campaign promised to donate to their opponent’s campaign if they can prove alcohol is safer than pot. From the Alaska Dispatch:

In a Wednesday morning press conference, supporters of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska stood outside a downtown Anchorage office building with a giant novelty check written out to “No on 2/ Project S.A.M.” for $9,015 — the same amount of money the alcohol lobby donated to former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy during his time in office. Kennedy is the co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national group that opposes marijuana legalization.

The event served as a challenge to opponents of the Alaska measure — a group collectively known as “Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No On 2″– to show the public the science proving that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

Obviously, the legalization campaign is in no danger of losing the money. The scientific research is clear on the relative danger of alcohol and marijuana use. And Americans are quickly coming to understand this. The latest Pew poll found 69 percent think alcohol is more dangerous to an individual’s health than pot, while only 15 percent see pot as more dangerous that alcohol.

This “marijuana is safer” message proved to be very effective in Colorado during their 2012 legalization campaign and it should be a big focus in Alaska this year as well.