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Largest brain study of 62,454 scans
identifies drivers of brain aging
The largest brain study of its kind finds that schizophrenia, marijuana use, and alcohol abuse are three disorders or behaviors among others that contribute to accelerated brain aging.
Researchers from the Amen Clinics, Google, and several universities participated in this study. They evaluated 62,454 SPECT scans of more than 30,000 people ages 9 months to 105 years old. SPECT scans reveal blood flow in the brain that various disorders can reduce, contributing to premature aging.
Investigators studied 128 brain regions to predict the actual age of patients. Older ages predicted from the scans were then compared to actual ages to determine accelerated brain aging. Schizophrenia showed an average of 4 years of premature brain aging; cannabis use 2.8 years; bipolar disorder 1.6 years, ADHD 1.4 years, and alcohol abuse 0.6 years.

Co-investigator Sachit Egan, of Google Inc., says through this study “groundwork has been laid to further explore how common psychiatric disorders can influence healthy patterns of cerebral blood flow." 
Read Science Daily summary here. Read Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease abstract here.

Cannabis Health Warning Messages
The Government of Canada, which legalized cannabis to get high last year, has issued marijuana health warnings. Here are the recommendations:
WARNING: Cannabis smoke is harmful. Harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke are also found in cannabis smoke.
WARNING: Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Using cannabis during pregnancy may harm your baby and result in low birth weight.
WARNING: Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Substances found in cannabis are also found in the breast milk of mothers who use cannabis.
WARNING: Do not drive or operate machinery after using cannabis. More than 4,000 Canadians were injured and 75 died from driving after using cannabis (in 2012).
WARNING: Do not drive or operate machinery after using cannabis. After cannabis use, coordination, reaction time and ability to judge distances are impaired.
WARNING: Cannabis can be addictive. Up to half of people who use cannabis on a daily basis have work, social or health problems from using cannabis.
WARNING: Cannabis can be addictive. 1 in 11 people who use cannabis will become addicted.
WARNING: Cannabis can be addictive. Up to 1 in 2 people who use cannabis daily will become addicted.
WARNING: Regular use of cannabis can increase the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia. Higher THC content can increase the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia.
WARNING: Regular use of cannabis can increase the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia. Higher THC content can lower the age of onset of schizophrenia.
WARNING: Regular use of cannabis can increase the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia. Young people are especially at risk.
WARNING: Adolescents are at greater risk of harms from cannabis. Early and regular use increases the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia.
WARNING: Adolescents are at greater risk of harms from cannabis. Using cannabis as a teenager can increase your risk of becoming addicted.
WARNING: Adolescents are at greater risk of harms from cannabis. 1 in 6 people who start using cannabis in adolescence will become addicted.

Read Government of Canada health warnings here.

There’s nothing funny about today’s highly potent marijuana. It killed my son.
Writing in USA Today, opinion contributor Sally Schindel notes that today’s high-potency marijuana is no laughing matter. It killed her son, Andy, pictured above.
“I want to die,” he wrote in a note to his mother just before hanging himself at age 31. “My soul is already dead. Marijuana killed my soul + ruined my brain.”
Andy served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq.
But afterwards, Sally writes, he became addicted to pot, using a medical marijuana card issued by the state of Arizona that enabled him to smoke 10 joints a day. He was hospitalized in five mental health centers and completed two courses of court-ordered mental health treatment.
She points out that while the marijuana industry may dismiss Andy’s suicide as an aberration, he is not alone. A study published last month by The Lancet found that people who use high-potency marijuana are five times more likely to develop psychosis than those who do not use the drug. The researchers defined high-potency as THC levels of at least 10 percent. But THC levels in Arizona’s dispensaries that sell marijuana for medical use can be as high as 90 percent.  
Sally notes the researchers of The Lancet study conclude that up to half of first-episode psychoses could be prevented if high-potency marijuana were not available.
Could a policy change outlawing high-potency pot have prevented Andy’s suicide? We’ll never know. All Sally knows is her son is gone.
All she has left of him are his dog tags, which she wears around her neck as she works to warn other parents that what happened to Andy could happen to their kids.
Read Sally’s USA Today op-ed here

Using cannabis and tobacco/nicotine together
is linked to heavier use and poorer functioning among young adults

A new RAND survey finds that more than one-third of young adults use marijuana and tobacco or nicotine, either one right after the other or combined in vaping devices. The consequences of such use are that they tend to consume more of both drugs and report poorer functioning and more problematic behaviors compared to those who don’t use both products together.
RAND researchers surveyed more than 2,400 young adults ages 18 to 25 in 2017 and 2018. The subjects are part of a longer study of people recruited in 2008 from 16 middle schools in Southern California who now live in some 400 different neighborhoods throughout the state.
In this study, about half reported cannabis use during the past year and 43 percent reported using some form of tobacco or nicotine during the same time. About 37 percent reported using both. More than 80 percent of those who reported past-year marijuana use also reported past-year tobacco use. Some 17 percent use these drugs sequentially (one right after the other), while 14 percent used both by mixing them together in the same device.
“The study found that co-use of cannabis and tobacco or nicotine is associated with worse functioning, including poorer mental and physical health, as well as greater problematic behaviors such as fighting, skipping school, being fired, and getting in trouble with the police.”
Those who used both products but not on the same occasion did not show greater risk compared to those who used only cannabis or tobacco or nicotine.
Lead researcher Joan Tucker says, “Our findings suggest that we can no longer just think about the consequences of tobacco use or marijuana use alone—we have to think about them together.”
The study appears in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Read RAND Press Release here. Read PUBMED abstract here.

Into the weeds:
Regulating pesticides in cannabis
Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) is a monthly journal of environmental health research and news published with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 
This eye-opening article provides an in-depth look at issues surrounding marijuana contaminants such as moisture content (to detect mildew and mold), residual solvents, heavy metals, mycotoxins (secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals), microbial (bacteria that cause disease) impurities, and pesticides.
It looks at California’s effort to enforce rigorous testing standards, thought to be the strictest in the nation by some, not strict enough by others, noting that testing requirements vary greatly from state to state (including none at all in Washington State).
It examines how Canada, which legalized the drug to get high last year, is dealing with the contaminants issue and explores what might happen if the US fully legalizes marijuana at the federal level.
This is a useful reference for the topic of contaminants.
Read Environmental Health Perspectives article here.

SAMHSA introduces
new marijuana education video.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a new marijuana education video that will delight all those working in prevention. KUDOS, SAMHSA!
Click here to access video.

NEW—Visit The Marijuana Report’s
Facebook page
In addition to four issues of The Marijuana Report itself, we are posting several more marijuana messages a month on our Facebook page. Search Facebook for nationalfamilies to access it.

The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

Visit National Families in Action's website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

Subscribe to The Marijuana Report e-newsletter.

The Marijuana Report Staff
Executive Editor
Sue Rusche
Nicole Carter
IT Consultant
Lee Clontz
Social Media Coordinator
Margarita Eberline
We are grateful to our Board of Directors and Senior Adviser for their support of National Families in Action, which produces The Marijuana Report website and e-newsletter.
National Families in Action
Board of Directors

William F. Carter, Chairman of the Board
Realtor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Georgia Properties, Atlanta.

Sue Rusche, President and CEO, Atlanta.

Richard L. Brown, Secretary
Attorney (Ret.), Lakewood Ranch, Florida
Founder & Chairman, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association 

Jeannine F. Adams, Director
President and CEO, J. Addams & Partners, Atlanta.

Jack L. Arbiser, MD, PhD, Director
Thomas J. Lawley Professor of Dermatology
Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta

William H. Avery, Director
Partner (Ret.), Alston & Bird, LLP, Atlanta.

Margarita Eberline, Director
Strategy Director, 360 Marketing Plus, Atlanta.

Robert Margolis, PhD, Director
Founder, Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia.

Shannon Murphy, MD FAAP, Director
Birmingham, Alabama 
Senior Adviser
Kent “Oz” Nelson, Chairman and CEO (Ret.)
United Parcel Service, Atlanta.
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