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Prolonged Marijuana Use Linked to Poor Memory

First Posted: Dec 16, 2013 10:51 AM EST

As 20 states in the U.S. alone have legalized the use of medical marijuana, not including D.C., along with two that have also legalized the drug for recreational use, several studies promote interesting information regarding the compounds abilitiy to relax the body and mind. However, others show that long term cannabis use can cause short term memory loss and harm brain function.

According to researchers from Northwestern Medicine, they found that heavy and prolonged use of marijuana can alter brain function and cognitive abilities.

Researchers studied 67 participants, including control groups, by testing drug use in 16 to 17 year olds. At the time of current research, the test volunteers had been marijuana free for approximately two years.

Researchers used an MRI to assess any changes found in the deep subcortical gray matter of chronic marijuana users, and then compared results with healthy individuals to schizophrenic patients. The study showed that marijuana patients had poor memory compared to control groups.

"The study links the chronic use of marijuana to these concerning brain abnormalities that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it," said lead study author Matthew Smith, an assistant research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, via a press release. "With the movement to decriminalize marijuana, we need more research to understand its effect on the brain."

More information regarding the study can be found via the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin

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