Parsing the Contradictions: Marijuana and the Brain

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

“We see specific morphological changes in the brain to important neurotransmitter systems, and individuals who are exposed to THC early in life show greater sensitivity to opiates than others do,” she said. “We know that the brain definitely adapts to marijuana. It is profoundly changing the receptors and receptor signaling that impact gene expression. And the changes it makes last through adulthood and even into the next generation. So we see that there’s something about the ongoing processes in the developing brain that this drug somehow sensitizes—in the cells, the receptors, and in the signaling cascades—that makes kids more vulnerable to addiction and other problems later.”

“There is a lot of optimism for what components of the marijuana plant may offer on a medicinal level but, like all other drugs, the caveat is that you have to know what it does, what population it can be used for, and who could be vulnerable to its effects. We need a lot more research before we can say anything concrete about its future as a treatment.”