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Ted talk marijuana

In 1970, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 drug in the United States: the strictest designation possible, meaning it was completely illegal and had no recognized medical uses. For decades, this view persisted and set back research on the drug’s mechanisms and effects. Today, marijuana’s therapeutic benefits are widely acknowledged, and some nations have legalized medical use or are moving in that direction. But a growing recognition for marijuana’s medical value doesn’t answer the question: is recreational marijuana use bad for your brain?

Marijuana acts on the body’s cannabinoid system, which has receptors all over the brain and body. Molecules native to the body, called endocannabinoids, also act on these receptors. We don’t totally understand the cannabinoid system, but it has one feature that provides a big clue to its function. Most neurotransmitters travel from one neuron to the next through a synapse to propagate a message. But endocannabinoids travel in the opposite direction. When a message passes from the one neuron to the next, the receiving neuron releases endocannabinoids. Those endocannabinoids travel backward to influence the sending neuron— essentially giving it feedback from the receiving neuron. This leads scientists to believe that the endocannabinoid system serves primarily to modulate other kinds of signals— amplifying some and diminishing others.

Feedback from endocannabinoids slows down rates of neural signaling. That doesn’t necessarily mean it slows down behavior or perception, though. For example, slowing down a signal that inhibits smell could actually make smells more intense.

Marijuana contains two main active compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD. THC is thought to be primarily responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects on behavior, cognition, and perception, while CBD is responsible for the non-psychoactive effects. Like endocannabinoids, THC slows down signaling by binding to cannabinoid receptors. But it binds to receptors all over this sprawling, diffuse system at once, whereas endocannabinoids are released in a specific place in response to a specific stimulus.

This widespread activity coupled with the fact that the cannabinoid system indirectly affects many other systems, means that each person’s particular brain chemistry, genetics, and previous life experience largely determine how they experience the drug. That’s true much more so with marijuana than with other drugs that produce their effects through one or a few specific pathways. So the harmful effects, if any, vary considerably from person to person. And while we don’t know how exactly how marijuana produces specific harmful effects, there are clear risk factors that can increase peoples’ likelihood of experiencing them.

The clearest risk factor is age. In people younger than 25, cannabinoid receptors are more concentrated in the white matter than in people over 25. The white matter is involved in communication, learning, memory, and emotions. Frequent marijuana use can disrupt the development of white matter tracts, and also affect the brain’s ability to grow new connections. This may damage long-term learning ability and problem solving. For now, it’s unclear how severe this damage can be or whether it’s reversible. And even among young people, the risk is higher the younger someone is— much higher for a 15 year old than a 22 year old, for instance.

Marijuana can also cause hallucinations or paranoid delusions. Known as marijuana-induced psychosis, these symptoms usually subside when a person stops using marijuana. But in rare cases, psychosis doesn’t subside, instead unmasking a persistent psychotic disorder. A family history of psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, is the clearest, though not the only, risk factor for this effect. Marijuana-induced psychosis is also more common among young adults, though it’s worth noting that psychotic disorders usually surface in this age range anyway. What’s unclear in these cases is whether the psychotic disorder would have appeared without marijuana use— whether marijuana use triggers it early, is a catalyst for a tipping point that wouldn’t have been crossed otherwise, or whether the reaction to marijuana is merely an indication of an underlying disorder. In all likelihood, marijuana’s role varies from person to person.

At any age, as with many other drugs, the brain and body become less sensitive to marijuana after repeated uses, meaning it takes more to achieve the same effects. Fortunately, unlike many other drugs, there’s no risk of fatal overdose from marijuana, and even heavy use doesn’t lead to debilitating or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if use stops. There are more subtle forms of marijuana withdrawal, though, including sleep disturbances, irritability, and depressed mood, which pass within a few weeks of stopping use.

So is marijuana bad for your brain? It depends who you are. But while some risk factors are easy to identify, others aren’t well understood— which means there’s still some possibility of experiencing negative effects, even if you don’t have any of the known risk factors.

TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript: In 1970, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 drug in the United States: the strictest designation possible, meaning it was completely illegal and had no recognized medical uses. Today, marijuana's therapeutic benefits are widely acknowledged, but a growing recognition for its medical value doesn't answer the question: is recreational marijuana use bad for your brain? Anees Bahji investigates. [Directed by Anton Bogaty, narrated by Addison Anderson, music by Bamm Bamm Wolfgang].

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While cannabis may be used by some people for their health conditions, deciding whether cannabis is appropriate to treat an individual’s symptoms is best made through discussion with a health care practitioner. Unregulated cannabis use can lead to various mental, emotional and physical effects including hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and fear and changes in thinking or ability to make decisions. Using cannabis before the age of 18 increases the risk for long-term effects. In some cases, unregulated cannabis use may lead to Cannabis Use Disorder, which can go largely untreated. Cannabis Use Disorder is a medical term for cannabis use resulting in distress and distress. This can include failure to meet responsibilities at school, work or home. Cannabis Use Disorder ranges differently. For more on the addictive property of cannabis and its effects, click here!

Driving after cannabis consumption is illegal, and raises the risk of a crash. Cannabis may impact a driver’s reaction time, attention, and judgement. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, many youth believe that driving under the influence of cannabis is safer or less dangerous than alcohol-impaired driving. This is partly due to the fact that youth didn’t associate the positive feeling of being high with the potential risk of impaired driving. To learn more about Cannabis use and its driving-related impacts, click here. Or for more on the impact of cannabis on consumers, click here!

While cannabis use varies, smoking cannabis through joints or bongs is the most harmful way of consuming cannabis because of the negative effects it has on the lungs. Some believe deep inhaling, holding their breath, increases their high when smoking. However, there is mixed evidence on whether this is true. It is clear, however, that this method increases the absorption of toxic materials in your lungs, which negatively impacts the lung. Consuming cannabis through vaping can be less harmful. Edibles are also another less harmful option. However, the delayed effect poses a different risk. Remember, there is no method that is entirely risk-free. Click here to learn 10 ways to reduce the risk of cannabis when using!

In 1970, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 drug in the United States: the strictest designation possible, meaning it was completely illegal and had no recognized medical uses. Today, marijuana’s therapeutic benefits are widely acknowledged, but a growing recognition for its medical value