Monday, November 14, 2011

More bad news for Marijuana

For many years the proponents of Marijuana have said that it is essentially a “safe” recreational drug. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, even all currently so-called legal mood altering substances, from caffeine to alcohol, can have serious health implications.

Putting another nail in the coffin of the marijuana myth is a report in the November issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry with lead author Killian Welch saying “"It is now accepted by most psychiatrists that smoking cannabis increases an individual's risk of psychosis, and more specifically schizophrenia." But his findings go a step further and state “People with a family history of schizophrenia are particularly vulnerable to the psychotomimetic effects of the drug, and are likely at particular elevated risk of developing schizophrenia if they use cannabis."

For many young people however, a significant proportion of them would be ignorant of the fact that they had a “family history” of schizophrenia, and with the prevalence of the drug socially, may be tempted to use it. Sadly, early “experimentation” with such drugs could lead to a lifetime of mental health problems with all the emotional and social burdens that they entail.

Dr Welch study was unique in that it also found that those with a family history of schizophrenia and who used marijuana had a demonstrable reduction in size of the Thalamus, a key area of the brain, responsible for information processing: or as one headline shouted:


I think the simple message is that nothing illegal is likely to be good for you when it comes to mood altering medications, and even if it is legal, you still need to be extremely cautious about using them.

Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.


Tonya said...

Hello Dr. Jefferson,

I have Young Onset Parkinson's Disease. Many PWP (people with Parkinson's) use marijuana to relieve their symptoms, such as pain. For the record, I don't.
Also, PWP are already at risk for having dementia in the moderate to later stages of PD.
What do you think the affects of their use will be? Could the dementia that might have manifested in the later stages, come out earlier because of the use of marijuana?

Thanks in advance for you thoughts on this. Glad to find your blog.

WanderingThoughts said...

I tend to disagree with this blog Dr. Jefferson. Since every medical side effect you've listed including the "shrinking brain" and "leading to emotional and mental abnormalities" have not been proven, I will not strike against those just yet.

Instead your phrase to push forward the idea of "anything illegal is usually not good for you," is quite an ignorant, general statement to claim. In fact, the reason being for the outlawing of marijuana dates back to the early 1900's, blamed on the Mexican-American's, and Mormon's use of cannabis after traveling from Mexico to America. Tensions were high especially between Americans and Mexicans, thus outlawing the very one thing Mexicans were known for bringing with them: cannabis. With the outlawing of a substance based on pure racial reasoning, the fact that marijuana may not be good for you because it's illegal is irrelevant.

Cannabis has been noted for use all the way dating back to 7000 BC along with not only it's recreational uses and medical benefits, but as well as cannabis hemp for materialistic things; but we are currently living in the less than 1% of marijuana's existence that's proclaimed illegal. Our ancestors used it for an exponential amount of reasons, and we seem to find ourselves obsessing over the possible negatives that come with the sole act of using for recreation. Just about any substance one puts in their body including over the counter drugs can lead to numerous physical, mental, and emotional problems. Throwing all this life-crippling negativity at a substance that has been used since the start of animal domestication (a long time ago!) is something we could do without and lead to the gaining of a lot more time back into our busy days.

Dr Duncan Jefferson said...

PD has been described as a disease of decades - in other words it is often a slowly progressive disease of the CNS: sadly that is not always the case. Current efforts are aimed at raising levels of Dopamine in the affected areas of the brain. As far as I know marijuana does not impact these areas. In advanced PD, my feeling would be that whatever the patient "feels" is helping improve their symptoms, then "scientific thought" should not stand in their way, as science has very little to offer in such situations .... at this time!
I hope that helps Tonya.

Tonya said...

Thank you for your response, Dr. Jefferson. Yes, your answer did help.
Have a great day!

Yomi said...

fascinating! I knew that hallucinogens can affect people with schizophrenia, but I had no clue that it actually affected the Thalamus! I'll have to bring this up for discussion in my A&P lab!