Cannabis Use Not Associated with Negative Changes in Brain Structure, Study Finds

 Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

A study coming from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Oregon Health and Science University has found cannabis use is not linked to adverse changes in brain structure. The study, which was published in the journal Addiction, involved neuroimaging data among adults between 18 and 55 years old and adolescents between 14 and 18 years of age who use marijuana or alcohol. Those who used cannabis within the past 30 days did present negative structural measures when it comes to the presence or integrity of gray matter and white matter within the brain. While cannabis is considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance, the study has linked one substance that is legalized for adults over a certain age to adverse changes in brain structure: alcohol. The researchers found alcohol consumption led to lower gray matter volume and poorer white matter integrity.

Drawing conclusions from this study, however, has been difficult for researchers, mainly due to the fact study participants in most cases used multiple substances, but the results still seem to suggest that alcohol use, and not cannabis use, has a negative impact on the brain. Researchers claim their findings support previous studies that suggest, “regionally specific differences between cannabis users and non-users are often inconsistent across studies and that some of the observed associations may actually be related to comorbid alcohol use.” One study from 2015 at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Louisville in Kentucky found cannabis was not linked to adverse changes in brain structure, and concluded, “[I]t seems unlikely that marijuana use has the same level of long-term deleterious effects on brain morphology as other drugs like alcohol. … The press may not cite studies that do not find sensational effects, but these studies are still extremely important.”

This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.