Pubdate: Sat, 15 Nov 2014
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Page: A8


One of the major arguments often heard in favor of marijuana 
decriminalization and legalization is that the only thing smoking 
weed threatens is a bag of Doritos.

Now a groundbreaking study that originated at the Mind Research 
Network on the campus of the University of New Mexico shows regularly 
getting high causes more damage than late-night munchies on a waistline.

In the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National 
Academy of Sciences, Dr. Vince Calhoun, a distinguished research 
professor of electrical and computer engineering at UNM, used three 
MRI techniques over several years to monitor a group of "chronic" pot 
smokers and compare them to a control group. Working closely with the 
Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas - 
including Dr. Francesca Filbey, director of Cognitive Neuroscience 
Research in Addictive Disorders and a former Mind Research Network 
colleague - he found that smoking marijuana at least three times a 
day over an extended period of time measurably reduces the volume of 
gray matter in a part of the brain associated with decision making 
and addiction.

And while researchers also found an increase in a function called 
brain connectivity - crucial to processing information - that leveled 
off after six to eight years and could be the brain trying to make up 
for the negative affects of THC (the main psychoactive ingredient of 
marijuana) on the gray matter in the front of the brain. Meanwhile:

New Mexico still does not have a drugged driving law to keep the 
roads safe seven years after lawmakers legalized medical marijuana.

Pot is still illegal under federal law, as medical users who are 
stopped at border checkpoints have found.

No on has come up with an official solution for how legalized pot 
works for employees in drug-free companies.

A five-year study in France and the Journal of the American Heart 
Association both warn that marijuana could lead to strokes and heart 
attacks, even among young users.

Colorado's legalization has led to reports of new users of edible 
marijuana treats threatening suicide and being arrested for homicide.

And now Calhoun's scientific research - which is not the easily 
dismissed claim of a group with an agenda - shows reduced gray matter 
with chronic use.

All should give serious pause - which happens in that frontal lobe - 
to politicians who want to take Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and 
New Mexico one toke over the line to decriminalization and legalization.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom