Drug Law

Alcohol Far Worse than Marijuana for Adolescent Brain

| by NORML

SAN DIEGO --- Chronic marijuana use by adolescents may subtly impair certain neurocognitive
skills, but this impairment is far less severe than the adverse effects
associated with the use of alcohol, according to a review
published in the January issue of the scientific journal Clinical EEG and
Neuroscience
.

Investigators at
San Diego State University and the University of California at San Diego wrote:

"Recent research has indicated that adolescent substance users show
abnormalities on measures of brain functioning, which is linked to changes in
neurocognition over time.

"Abnormalities have been seen in brain structure
volume, white matter quality, and activation to cognitive tasks, even in youth
with as little as one to two years of heavy drinking and consumption levels of
20 drinks per month, especially if [more than] four or five drinks are consumed
on a single occasion.

"Heavy marijuana users show some subtle anomalies too, but
generally not the same degree of divergence from demographically similar
non-using adolescents."

By contrast,
studies have demonstrated that marijuana use by adults, even chronic use, is seldom
associated
with any long-term residual impact in cognitive
skills.

Commenting on the
UCSD/UCSD study, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: "This review affirms
once again that cannabis, though not harmless, poses far less risk to the
consumer than does alcohol. Given this premise, it is counterintuitive that our
state and federal laws embrace the use of booze while stigmatizing and
criminally prohibiting the use of marijuana by adults."

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