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Teen Brain Volume Changes
with Small Amount of Cannabis Use, Study Finds
 
Just one or two joints seem to change the structure of the brain, say researchers from universities around the world, led by senior author and University of Vermont professor of psychiatry Hugh Garavan, PhD, and first author and former UVM postdoctoral fellow Catherine Orr, PhD.
 
The study is part of a long-term European effort called IMAGEN, which has collected brain images from 2,000 children in Ireland, France, and Germany, starting when they were age 14 and continuing through age 23.
 
Researchers compared the brain images of 46 children age 14 who reported having used marijuana once or twice with those of children that age who had not used the drug. The images of the marijuana triers showed greater brain volume in areas with cannabinoid receptors. The biggest differences were in the amygdala, involved in fear and other emotions, and the hippocampus, the site of memory development and spatial abilities.
 
“You’re changing your brain with just one or two joints. Most people would likely assume that one or two joints would have no impact on the brain,” says Dr. Garavan.
 
It is unclear what the extra gray matter in these brain areas means. Normally at age 14, the brain is refining its synaptic connections to make it thinner, not thicker. Dr. Garavan says one possibility is that initial marijuana use in this age group may be disrupting that “pruning” process.
 
The new findings open a new area of focus for future research.
 
Read the University of Vermont’s account of this study here.
Read study abstract here.

 
For Opioid Use Disorder,
Does Cannabis Produce Harm or Reduce Harm?
 
On January 17, 2018, The Marijuana Report summarized and provided a link to this landmark study the week it was published in the January 2018 issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry. Titled “Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States,” the study was one of the first to examine potential links between marijuana use and opioid use disorder in humans as opposed to Medicare and Medicaid state-level prescription data.
 
We wish we had known about the Recovery Research Institute then because we would have referred our readers to another, excellent link describing this study in depth. Founded in 2012, the Recovery Research Institute “is a team of innovative scientists working through research, education, and outreach to enhance recovery through science, conducting and disseminating the most up-to-date research findings for individuals, families, healthcare professionals and policymakers alike.” An institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, the nonprofit is dedicated to the advancement of addiction treatment and recovery.
 
We revisit this study one year later because the Institute’s elegant analysis of it is comprehensive and helpful to all. Its subtitles explain why we think it is so helpful: 
  • What problem does this study address?
  • How was this study conducted?
  • What did this study find?
    • The effects of cannabis use
    • The effects of cannabis on opioid use disorder
  • Why is this study important?
    • The most important finding in this study is that cannabis use is related to greater odds of both new-onset opioid use and opioid use disorder three years later, even when adjusting for many potential factors that could explain this relationship.
  • Next Steps
  • Bottom Line
    • For individuals and families seeking recovery
    • For scientists
    • For policymakers
    • For treatment professionals and treatment systems
  • Citations 
Read the Recovery Research Institute’s analysis of The American Journal of Psychiatry article here.
 
Two studies: Teens who use stronger marijuana
are at twice the risk of abusing it. 
Four in ten report hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety after marijuana use.
 
Dr. Brooke Arterberry, assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University and colleagues at Brown University and the University of Michigan, published a study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence that finds teens who used lower potency marijuana (4.9% THC) were 1.88 times more likely to develop a first symptom of dependence one year later. That rose nearly five-fold (4.85 times) among teens who used marijuana containing 12.3% THC.
 
Symptoms of dependence include craving, repeated use in situations where it is physically dangerous, or failing to meet obligations at home, school, or work. The study is specific to the first symptom of dependence, not a diagnosis of the disorder.
 
The data, from the Michigan Longitudinal Study, are pertinent to individuals who are at high risk of developing a substance use disorder.
 
A second study, conducted by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH and Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, published in JAMA Pediatrics, approached 1,235 adolescents ages 14-18 who presented for routine medical care. Some 527 consented to answer survey questions that included questions about marijuana use, and 146 affirmed they had used marijuana.
 
Overall, 40 teens reported hallucinations, 49 experienced paranoia or anxiety, and 63 said they had had at least one psychotic symptom.
 
 “Seventy respondents affirmed monthly or more marijuana use during the past year – and this group was more likely to report experiencing hallucinogens and paranoia compared with youths who affirmed use once or twice in the past year. Our findings suggest that experience of marijuana-related acute psychotic symptoms may be considerable,” says Professor Levy.
 
Read Health Medicine Network article here. Read abstract of Dr. Arterberry’s study here. Read Boston Children's Hospital post of Dr. Levy's study here. Read abstract of Dr. Levy’s study here.
 

Recall deals blow
to California’s marijuana industry
 
Tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana and other pot products were recalled in California after officials discovered that a Sacramento laboratory was caught faking pesticide test results.
 
Sequoia Analytical Lab closed down and surrendered its business license after state inspectors discovered that its director had been faking test results for 22 of the 66 pesticides labs are required to analyze under California law.
 
As a result, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control sent recall notices to 29 marijuana distributors and retailers asking them to return or destroy all products that had been tested by the lab for the past six months. Nearly 850 batches – tens of thousands of pounds of flower and an equal amount of other products such as oils and vaping material – were recalled.
 
Starting January 1, 2019, labs were required to test for heavy metals in addition to potency, residual solvents, molds, fungus, bacteria, and 66 pesticides, including the insecticides carbaryl and malathion.
 
Read San Francisco Gate story here.
 

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
Editor
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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