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Evidence grows that heavy marijuana use may harm the brain

Science Spotlight

November 19, 2014

New NIDA-funded research shows that heavy marijuana use (at least four times per week over the past six months) is linked to adverse changes in the function and structure of brain areas associated with reward, decision making, and motivation.  Heavy marijuana use can also enhance some brain circuits – possibly to compensate for reduced function in specific brain regions. This effect was more pronounced in those who started using at a young age, indicating that developing brains are particularly vulnerable to marijuana’s effects.

Illustration of a neuron cell

Although further long-term studies are needed to determine whether marijuana caused these effects, these scientific findings add to the growing literature showing that heavy marijuana use may harm the brain.

For a copy of the abstract (published online November 10), go to www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/11/05/1415297111.abstract. For a press release from the study authors, go to www.brainhealth.utdallas.edu/blog_page/study-shows-marijuanas-long-term-effects-on-the-brain.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.

Contact:
NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2014, November 19). Evidence grows that heavy marijuana use may harm the brain. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2014/11/evidence-grows-heavy-marijuana-use-may-harm-brain

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