I have bad news for all my pot-loving friends out there: pot is bad for you.
Now, now- before all of the pro-marijuana activists come forth ranting about all the medical applications for marijuana, hemp oil, and the like and the economic possibilities behind legalizing marijuana use: yes, there are definitely pros to marijuana as a medicinal herb. Yes, it has show great promise in treating chronic pain, brain disorders, and certain cancers. Yes, as a textile there are multiple uses for hemp.
Yes to all of those things, but, it’s still bad for you.
How? How could it possibly be good for all of those things, but still be considered bad for you?
Well, let’s start with the fact that smoking anything greatly increases your chance of developing lung, throat, and mouth cancer as well as other forms of the disease. Marijuana has been touted as the great, natural cancer killer: and it is true that it has cancer-killing components.
But that does not stop the damage caused by smoking. The American Lung Association notes that cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke contains many of the same carcinogens; both can be linked to chronic lung conditions and poor lung health.
But that’s not what this is about; no, today we’re finally putting an old argument to rest: does smoking marijuana kill brain cells? Some newly released research certainly supports that argument.
Well, to say the research “proves” smoking pot kills brain cells is a bit dramatic. The JAMA Internal Medicine journal published the research findings at the beginning of February, stating that a decline in memory and cognitive ability can be directly tied to marijuana use.
In the study, Professor Reto Auer of the University of Lausanne and his team of researchers examined data concerning the marijuana smoking habits of nearly 3,400 people over a 25 year period. The subjects of this research were submitted to several tests designed specifically to gauge their cognitive abilities- namely their memory, ability to focus, make quick decisions, and other factors. Researchers were careful in grouping the subjects of the study to negate any misgivings caused by outside factors (age, education, other substance use, mental illness, etc).
What did they find? The most telling bit of data showed that daily smokers with five or more years of marijuana use under their belts were found to have more difficulty with verbal memory than those who did not smoke or smoked less often.
“So,” you may say, “I don’t smoke that often, so I’m fine.”
Well, not exactly. The research determined that even though the most telling group was that comprised of daily marijuana smokers, even those who smoked less often were still affected cognitively- just a bit less so.
For fairness, it should be noted that of the nearly 3,400 participants, only 311 met the criteria necessary to be considered members of the heavy smokers group- daily use for five or more years. However, drug policy experts are concerned that legalization of marijuana will cause a steep increase in heavy marijuana use and the co-existing problems.
Now, is this enough to deny those with a medical need access to something which may ease their suffering? That’s a matter of ethics that has long been debated and, I suspect, will continue to be for the perceivable future.