On November 6, 2012, the State of Colorado became the first state to pass cannabis legalization legislation, along with the State of Washington, successfully. Colorado Amendment 64, enacted as Article 18 Section 16 of the state constitution, allows for personal use and regulation of marijuana for adults 21 and over.
As many of you know, Colorado is now one of 10 states that permits adults to use cannabis for recreational purposes. The passing of such laws is a giant step forward toward doing away with draconian marijuana laws. While it’s evident that prohibition mostly does more harm than good, the fact is that there is limited available research on America’s favorite drug.
In recent years, researchers have been working to uncover the secrets of cannabis to inform the public about its benefits and harms. Despite being legal in many states, Americans should have all the facts before they engage in use. That is especially true for young people; those who often confuse the word “legal” with “safe-to-use.”
Seeing The Forest For The Trees
As one might imagine, legalization corresponds with an increase in cannabis use in such states. After alcohol, marijuana is the favorite among people in the United States. Even before lawmakers stepped back from prohibition, “weed” was the most used illicit substance and continues to be. Remember, cannabis is still a scheduled narcotic in the eyes of the Federal government.
The drug is legal for people over the age of 21, but few of those same people have any idea of the risks. Young people should be privy to the fact that cannabis use impacts cognitive function. Scientists have known for a long time that developing brains and marijuana are not a good mix. Still, there is much about marijuana that scientists don’t know, thanks to decades of prohibition. Fortunately, with each passing year researchers connect more dots about the impact and benefits of marijuana use.
The Society for Neuroscience held its annual meeting recently in San Diego, CA, MNT reports. Cannabis use was a topic of a serious discussion among experts in the field in attendance. At the event, there was an unveiling of findings from six new studies using animal models on the drug. Findings of note, include:
- Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis’ main psychoactive ingredient, reduces stress-resilience later in life.
- Cannabis use can lead to faulty development of brain circuits for memory and learning.
- Adolescent cannabinoid use led to enhanced activity in brain circuits that regulate the formation of habits.
- Cannabinoid using adolescents exhibited physical alterations in the development of brain regions involved in self-control, making decisions, and planning.
- Long-term use of cannabinoids led to changes in connectivity and metabolism in regions of the brain involved in memory and learning.
Cannabis Use Disorder
The above results demand that researchers explore this area of study further. Even though the findings come from animal models, there is a good reason to believe there are going to be consistencies in human models. What’s more, young people using the substance put themselves at risk of developing cannabis use disorder.
People who start using marijuana at a young age are at significant danger of experiencing problems down the road. Many people are unaware that cannabis has addictive properties; those who attempt to quit often experience withdrawal symptoms. Without outside assistance the prospect of cannabis use disorder recovery is small.
Each year, a statistically significant number of individuals seek out NorthStar Transitions for help with marijuana. Cannabis use disorder is a treatable condition, and addiction recovery is possible. Please contact NST if marijuana use is having a negative impact on your life. We can help you break the cycle and adopt a program of long-term recovery.