This latest study has shown that a particular strain of cannabis has extremely negative effects on a persons brain.
Brain scans of people who regularly smoked strong skunk-like cannabis revealed subtle differences in the white matter that connects the left and right hemispheres and carries signals from one side of the brain to the other.
The changes were not seen in those who never used cannabis or smoked only the less potent forms of the drug, the researchers found.
The study is thought to be the first to look at the effects of cannabis potency on brain structure, and suggests that greater use of skunk may cause more damage to the corpus callosum, making communications across the brain’s hemispheres less efficient.
The researchers used two scanning techniques, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), to examine the corpus callosum, the largest region of white matter, in the brains of 56 patients who had reported a first episode of psychosis, and 43 healthy volunteers from the local community.
The scans found that daily users of high-potency cannabis had a slightly greater – by about 2% – “mean diffusivity” in the corpus callosum. “That reflects a problem in the white matter that ultimately makes it less efficient,” Dazzan told the Guardian. “We don’t know exactly what it means for the person, but it suggests there is less efficient transfer of information.”
The study cannot confirm that high levels of THC in cannabis cause changes to white matter. As Dazzan notes, it is may be that people with damaged white matter are more likely to smoke skunk in the first place.
“As we have suggested previously, when assessing cannabis use, it is extremely important to gather information on how often and what type of cannabis is being used. These details can help quantify the risk of mental health problems and increase awareness of the type of damage these substances can do to the brain,” she added.
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