As states, including California, continue to grapple with the medical marijuana/decriminalization question, scientific evidence continues to trickle in concerning the negative health effects of marijuana use. According to this Reuters article, a study to be published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at Northwestern University, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital found that young adults (18-25) who used cannabis only once or twice a week showed “significant abnormalities” in two important brain structures. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Hans Beiter, previously worked on a study that found heavy cannabis use caused similar brain abnormalities “to those seen in patients with schizophrenia.” Though the young adult study has a “very small sample size,” Dr. Beiter notes that the “eye-opening results” should prompt more research. However, further research may be stymied by the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
Given the cultural shift towards broader acceptance of marijuana, perhaps now is the time for the feds to exempt marijuana from the research ban. That way, people can make more than half-baked decisions about what marijuana’s legal status should be in their communities, backed by scientific research.