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Recent Studies on Pot and Brain Damage Need to be Given “Sober” Attention
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 5/1/2014 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 05/02/2014 2:09:46 AM PDT by markomalley

A study recently came out analyzing the damage to the brain caused by pot smoking. Unfortunately, it came out during the week of the Triduum, and a Catholic blog like this had another focus at that time. But it’s time to circle back and have a look.

I wrote some time ago of my anecdotal observation that the pot smokers I knew all developed serious problems with motivation, and that the effects of being “high” lingered long after toking a joint and went on to become semi-permanent. It involved a glazed look, a shuffling gait, and a lethargic attitude largely exemplified by the phrase: “Hey man…I ain’t gotta do what the man says; I ain’t gotta go to the man’s class…” When some of the kids I grew up with started using pot, there was a very noticeable change in their personalities.  Again, I have written more on that here: The Problem of Pot

Now comes a more scientific study from Harvard that affirms what experience has taught. Below are some pertinent excerpts (in bold) along with my brief commentary (in red). The full article is here: Harvard Study links Pot and Brain Damage

According to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from Harvard and Northwestern studied the brains of 18- to 25-year-olds, half of whom smoked pot recreationally and half of whom didn’t. What they found was rather shocking: even those who only smoked few times a week had significant brain abnormalities in the areas that control emotion and motivation.

Exactly. But I wonder why the author of the article used the word “shocking”? As I have said, and many of you have commented, getting stoned makes you groggy, unmotivated, and induces a sort of personality change. I think it would have been shocking not to find any brain abnormalities. The phenomenon of becoming unmotivated is very observable.

Note too the phrase  “significant brain abnormalities.”

Similar studies have found a correlation between heavy pot use and brain abnormalities, but this is the first study that has found the same link with recreational users.

The study described “recreational users” as those who smoked pot between one and four times a week.

Using three different neuroimaging techniques, researchers then looked at…areas [of the brain] … responsible for gauging the benefit or loss of doing certain things, and providing feelings of reward for pleasurable activities such as food, sex, and social interactions. “This is a part of the brain that you absolutely never ever want to touch,” said [Hans] Breiter, co-author of the study….These are fundamental in terms of what people find pleasurable in the world and assessing that against the bad things.”

Pay attention! Pot affects judgment. The study seems to make clear that not only are pot smokers damaging their motivation, they are also affecting their ability to make sound judgments about what is good vs. bad, helpful vs. harmful.

This may go a long way to affirm another connection I have made anecdotally between drug use and the cultural revolution. How else can we describe the cultural and sexual revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s other than as a long stream of bad decisions, poor judgment, the abandonment of common sense, and just plain stupid and foolish thinking? In other words, an awful lot of the leaders, drivers, and participants in this these revolutions were stoned and their brains were damaged.

And even today, when there is so much evidence of the social harm caused by these revolutions, many still can’t make the connections; they want more of the same; they want to drive us deeper into revolution. Are their brains damaged? I don’t know. You decide.

But the widespread lack of common sense in our culture, especially among the Baby Boomers, has a kind of surreal quality to it. It’s a little like a bad dream that you’d expect people to eventually wake up from—but many don’t. Perhaps their brains are too damaged to wake up or to think clearly. I don’t know. You decide.

Shockingly, every single person in the marijuana group, including those who only smoked once a week, had noticeable abnormalities.

OK, so at least according to this study, even “moderate” use causes harm. Studies will continue, but honestly, the data have been pretty clear to me for a long time just from my personal experience with pot smokers. It ain’t cool or pretty. They just look glazed, stoned, unmotivated, and “dulled out.” Their whole sad demeanor shouts to me: “Don’t do drugs!”

I am not going to address here the issue of how drug use should be dealt with by the legal system. I am not certain that putting users in jail is the answer. But the legalization push that is rampaging through this country is yet another example of bad judgment. Let’s slow down the train and at least adopt the same attitude toward pot that we have toward cigarettes.

Pot should barely be tolerated within fifty miles of where anyone lives. And if it is “legal” it ought to be pushed to the margins of our society with no less scorn than tobacco has recently been given. When I see a tobacco smoker I think, “How sad. How foolish…given all we now know.” There is no less reason to consider pot smokers in this same manner. They are not cool, hip, or glamorous. Smoking pot is sad and foolish behavior.

To address the “Yeah, but what about alcohol?” objection, I will make a few quick observations:

  1. Drunkenness is a sin.
  2. Would our society be better off without any alcohol? Probably. But if so, why would we want to add another substance with problematic associations to the mix?
  3. I am not aware of any study that says that moderate or occasional use of alcoholic beverages permanently damages the human brain. But it is clear that excessive use of alcohol has severe bodily consequences, including effects on the brain.
  4. The Bible, while condemning drunkenness, does not forbid the use of alcohol and even commends the proper use of wine, etc.
  5. The moderate use of alcohol is not in the same category as pot smoking and the two should be discussed as separate matters. The expression “Drugs and Alcohol” is an equivocation that lumps together two different realities that are separated by wide gulfs of culture, history, experience, and medical study.


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events
KEYWORDS: alcohol; drugs; marijuana; msgrcharlespope; pot; wod; wodlist

1 posted on 05/02/2014 2:09:47 AM PDT by markomalley
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To: Biggirl; ConorMacNessa; Faith65; GreyFriar; Heart-Rest; JPX2011; Mercat; Mrs. Don-o; ...

Msgr Pope ping


2 posted on 05/02/2014 2:10:43 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley
It involved a glazed look, a shuffling gait, and a lethargic attitude

Sounds like me when I am rolling off of Midnight Shift.

3 posted on 05/02/2014 2:33:17 AM PDT by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
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To: Pontiac

Try vitamin B12.


4 posted on 05/02/2014 3:05:44 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper (Land of the Free and the home of the Brave!)
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To: Berlin_Freeper

Rookies


5 posted on 05/02/2014 3:08:01 AM PDT by bait4719
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To: Pontiac

Sounds more like a Democrat.


6 posted on 05/02/2014 3:15:28 AM PDT by dowcaet
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To: Pontiac

So why would you want to get that way as recreation?

Good article. What I don’t understand is why the powers that be have used every effort to condemn and criminalize tobacco smoking, supposedly because of its health effects, and yet are enthusiastically pushing pot smoking.

I also don’t understand why entire agencies and police units spend their time trying to catch vendors selling alcohol to people under 21...while a couple of weeks ago, Colorado permitted pot smokers of any and all ages to lie around all over a main square and puff away.

The government must benefit in a big way from people smoking dope. Could it be the word “dope”...hmmm, makes you easier to control, less demanding, less energetic, dumber...


7 posted on 05/02/2014 3:21:32 AM PDT by livius
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To: markomalley

The stone has been cast.


8 posted on 05/02/2014 3:32:54 AM PDT by soycd
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To: markomalley
I tend to agree with Msgr. Pope. As a thought experiment, suppose we assumed a different attitude towards widespread testing, and routinely screened people as they applied for public assistance. What do you suppose we would find? Now suppose the testing methodology was quick, easy, reliable, and non-invasive, and we deployed it at, say, the voting booth, to disqualify people who were under the influence at the time of voting. What do you think would be the effect on the electorate?

A little birdie is whispering in my ear that we would disqualify 5.7% of the Republicans, and 42.8% of the democrats. Just made up numbers for discussion ....

The number I have seen in print over the years is that 85% of the homeless are substance abusers (and most of the remainder have some other identifiable psychiatric problem). A similar percentage of those arrested for street crimes have drugs in their systems. I very much suspect that if we tested the long-term welfare population, we would find the same tendency, possibly at lower, but still significant, levels. And while the definitional issues are trickier, I suspect that the political correlates would be substantial.

Are there people who use pot regularly and manage their lives competently? Of course. I am acquainted with a couple of them: recreational users from their college days 40 years ago who are otherwise perfectly constructive human beings, except for being democrats. But we're talking averages here. If you had to be drug and alcohol free to vote, the electorate would look very different. And if we prohibited vote harvesting among the dysfunctional elements of society, there wouldn't be much of a democratic party left in places like DC. Take drugs out of the picture, and a lot of want we used to call the counterculture would change.

I'll circle back to welfare because it is the great enabler. Drugs of abuse, first and foremost alcohol, have always been available. But serious abusers were socially ostracized, became unemployable, and tended not to live long unless long-suffering families supported them. Not so today.

9 posted on 05/02/2014 3:45:56 AM PDT by sphinx
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To: markomalley
I am not certain that putting users in jail is the answer. But the legalization push that is rampaging through this country is yet another example of bad judgment.

Well, actually he is certain but won't admit his own damn bad judgment. Jailing dopers has been an abject failure as a social policy.

10 posted on 05/02/2014 3:51:42 AM PDT by AndyJackson
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To: dowcaet

Why do you think Democrats “think” the way they do?

Their brains are addled by drugs!


11 posted on 05/02/2014 3:53:12 AM PDT by exDemMom (Current visual of the hole the US continues to dig itself into: http://www.usdebtclock.org/)
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To: markomalley
my personal experience with pot smokers. It ain’t cool or pretty. They just look glazed, stoned, unmotivated, and “dulled out.”

Try a bar at 1AM.

12 posted on 05/02/2014 3:54:05 AM PDT by AndyJackson
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To: markomalley

I’ve been bringing up the brain damage and carcinogenicity of marijuana every time the subject comes up. Unfortunately, there is a lot of urban legend about the safety of pot. A lot of people who really believe those legends tend to dismiss any kind of bad information about pot as some sort of conspiracy.


13 posted on 05/02/2014 4:03:03 AM PDT by exDemMom (Current visual of the hole the US continues to dig itself into: http://www.usdebtclock.org/)
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To: markomalley

So many states are “legalizing” pot. This is a guaranteed way to put the public into a stupor and take its mind off the way the government is ruining their lives.


14 posted on 05/02/2014 4:16:32 AM PDT by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible. Complicit in the destruction of this country.)
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To: markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; ...

Ping!


15 posted on 05/02/2014 4:37:53 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: soycd
The stone has been cast.

I like that; I presume that it is a variation on "the die has been cast."

16 posted on 05/02/2014 5:18:54 AM PDT by OldPossum ("It's" is the contraction of "it" and "is"; think about ITS implications.)
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To: markomalley

Everything is bad in excess. I wonder if any comparative studies have been done on the brains of Islamists versus more relaxed types. I’d suspect abnormalities in the portions of the limbic system involved with rage.


17 posted on 05/02/2014 5:50:18 AM PDT by Pearls Before Swine
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To: AndyJackson; markomalley
"Well, actually he is certain but won't admit his own damn bad judgment. Jailing dopers has been an abject failure as a social policy"

Andy: "His own damn bad judgment"? This is a remarkably offensive way to mischaracterize a man who agrees with you that jailing is a dubious way to deal with dopers. Why the hostility?

18 posted on 05/02/2014 5:58:25 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Point of clarification, I hope. (Scratches head.))
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To: livius
My read is that the legislators have convinced each other that the mantra of the 60's, drugs, sex and rock n' roll, are all good things all the time.

I remember the rhetoric condemning alcohol and extolling pot. NOTHING wrong with pot. Those morons didn't convince me because I saw the effects pot had on folks.
It turned them into morons, albeit fairly happy morons.

19 posted on 05/02/2014 6:34:26 AM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: exDemMom
I’ve been bringing up the brain damage and carcinogenicity of marijuana every time the subject comes up. Unfortunately, there is a lot of urban legend about the safety of pot. A lot of people who really believe those legends tend to dismiss any kind of bad information about pot as some sort of conspiracy.

Were you around in the 60's? The entire health industry spoke about the bad effects of pot. Those doctors were called "uptight"--the final BAD remark about anyone.
Lol. Boy, am I dating myself.

20 posted on 05/02/2014 6:38:21 AM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: Mrs. Don-o; AndyJackson
Why the hostility?

Probably because we've heard all this scaremongering about weed one too many times, and it always results in some killjoy calling for stricter laws and punishments for possession and distribution. In other words, the failed policy of prohibition.

21 posted on 05/02/2014 7:32:46 AM PDT by bassmaner (Hey commies: I am a white male, and I am guilty of NOTHING! Sell your 'white guilt' elsewhere.)
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To: bassmaner; AndyJackson
It's rather clueless to attack an ally like Msgr. Pope (a person who does not see jail as "the" "solution") because of what some other (unspecified) person might possibly say.

You weaken your own position --- a position which I'd like to see better-defended--- when you resort to badly-aimed insult as a substitute for argument.

22 posted on 05/02/2014 8:21:12 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Sanity is the adequate response of the mind to the real thing: adaequatio mentis ad rem.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Why the hostility?

(It's the drugs.)

23 posted on 05/02/2014 10:57:21 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
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To: markomalley

At least I guess that gives them an excuse for being brain dead,

I have been trying to figure out what accuse the rest of us could use.


24 posted on 05/02/2014 2:01:54 PM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: markomalley

Let’s slow down the train and at least adopt the same attitude toward pot that we have toward cigarettes.


Yeah, just a bunch of dam hypocrites who think they are going to get to heaving by washing the out side of the cup.

Since this is on a religious thread I believe it is fair to say that Jesus never said anything about any of this.


25 posted on 05/02/2014 2:20:02 PM PDT by ravenwolf
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To: markomalley

“The Bible, while condemning drunkenness, does not forbid the use of alcohol and even commends the proper use of wine, etc.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.


26 posted on 05/02/2014 2:48:44 PM PDT by arbitrary.squid
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To: markomalley; Biggirl; NYer; Mrs. Don-o

I never figured out how pot could be good for you when tobacco is bad. I’m sure the pro-pot folks will decide that communion wine will cause brain damage and want to ban it in retaliation. Or communion grape juice.


27 posted on 05/02/2014 6:56:07 PM PDT by GreyFriar ( Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: I want the USA back
So many states are “legalizing” pot. This is a guaranteed way to put the public into a stupor and take its mind off the way the government is ruining their lives.

Also makes it easier for government to take over their lives, without push-back.

28 posted on 05/03/2014 8:31:14 PM PDT by SuziQ
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