Until recently, the effects of marijuana on the human brain were a matter of personal opinion. Many countries in the world are divided on the question if marijuana should be considered a drug, and there’s still a heated debate in the scientific community about the herb’s long-term effects on our brain and health. And, while alcohol is still legal everywhere in the world despite the dangers it brings, the push to make marijuana legal was most often largely based on the claims of recreational users. Well, not anymore.
A recent study from the University of Texas busted the myth that marijuana lowers our IQ – in fact, the study showed that the herb can actually improve our functional and structural connectivity in the brain. The more the participants used marijuana, the better and greater the connectivity was. Of course, the study was done on a pretty small scale so it should be confirmed with larger-scale follow-up studies, but the results are certainly promising. The study also showed that long-term marijuana users have reduced gray matter in the orbitofrontal cortex, although it’s unclear if the area is smaller in regular users or if the use of the herb actually caused the structural brain changes.
Recently, a follow-up on the study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and showed that there’s no difference between the non-daily or daily use of marijuana. This is contradictory to the findings of the previous study and the interpretation that frequent use of the herb is the main reason for the gray matter differences.
As we said, there’s still more research to be done on the matter before anything can be concluded, but for now, the findings are in line with previous claims that cannabinoids may promote neurogenesis in adults. Hopefully, there will be funding for the interested parties, and new extensive studies will see the light of day.