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The Effects of Marijuana on the Brain

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Pothead or stoner is a term often used to refer to someone who regularly smokes marijuana. The term, although derogatory, is often fitting, as marijuana tends to mellow the mind. A recent story about a pot grower from Florida who fell for the police’s ransom note illustrates this point perfectly.

Steven Locasio of Marathon, Florida, was recently picked up for cultivation and sale of marijuana after he fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Police found Locasio’s plot of 6 marijuana plants growing in a wooded lot, but weren’t able to trace it back to the person responsible. So they seized the plants, and as a last ditch effort, left a fake ransom note saying, “Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price…We’ll talk.” It didn’t take Locasio long to take the bait and call the ransom number, ready to negotiate. When he met to buy the plants back for $200, he was surprised to find out it was the police he was dealing with.

Marijuana and Brain Damage

While it may be debated whether or not this guy should win the dumbest pothead award, you can’t deny that doing drugs interferes with intelligence. Some drugs actually seem to “fry” the brain, just as the anti-drug tv campaign from the 1980’s stated. People do dumb things all the time when on drugs. The majority of crimes that are committed are drug-related. Sometimes it is because the person is so desperate to get their hands on their drugs that they will do anything to get them. Other times, a person’s judgment is just clouded because of the drug use. Many drugs, however, physically change the chemistry of the brain. A new study done in 2009 at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal showed that marijuana caused long lasting changes in serotonin and norepinephrine levels of the brain. This causes increased anxiety, stress, and depression, even after the marijuana use has stopped. Marijuana has also been found to impact the user’s cognition and emotion. All these effects on the brain should be a concern for those that use marijuana, and when the exposure is more frequent or carries on for an extended period of time, you can expect the damage to be even worse.

So while those under the influence of marijuana may seem laid back and relaxed, the drug is actually causing long-term or permanent damage to the brain. Problem solving, memory, concentration and perception may all show the effects. Marijuana may also affect the rest of the body adversely. Rapid heart beat, low blood pressure, respiratory problems, and decreased immune system function are all possible side effects.

Marijuana is one of those substances that many people don’t see the harm in. It is the most commonly used recreational drug and because it doesn’t cause fatal overdoses, many see it as harmless. But based on the evidence of recent studies, as well as other known adverse effects of marijuana, it should be avoided just like other drugs.


Fla. Cops Hold Pot Plants Hostage, Leave Ransom Note for “Dumbest” Grower

Teen Marijuana Use Might Have Lasting Effects on Mood, Anxiety

Mind Over Matter: Marijuana

The Health Effects of Marijuana

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Bethany Winkel

This article was written by Bethany Winkel

Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.


???January 27, 2010 at 2:26 amReply

most of what you posted is unfounded or founded under circumstances unrelated to what your trying to say… you carnt know what its like till you try it and ofcorse people can get stress and anxiety from it but how much are they smoking… everything in moderation. even moderation

jaredm Jared MoréJanuary 27, 2010 at 9:33 amReply

Perhaps marijuana is less harmful than other drugs as far as physical damage however it is important to point out that extended, and excessive usage creates changes in the brain. This is what we refer to as addiction. About your comment that we can not know until we try, I can tell you that the majority of people in the recovery industry are recovering addicts them self. Most of us started with marijuana, and that lead to harder drugs and serious addictions.

Steven haugerApril 6, 2010 at 12:12 pmReply

Most of what I just read are mostly case studys and a unconfirmed bias.if I were you I would read the a founded medical journal with multiple studies.

Ihas DothbinFebruary 6, 2011 at 8:51 pmReply

It doesn’t cause permanent damage, the brain returns to normal functioning within one day(with occasional use) to one month(with heavy daily use, such as smoking 5+ times a day)after use is stopped.

All drugs alter brain chemistry that’s what makes them “drugs”. Asprin for example causes changes that last up to 6 weeks after it’s taken. You already have natural cannabanoids in your system. If marijuana was to cause damage then simply being alive would do the same.