Tuesday, February 2, 2016

144 - Marijuana, Alcohol and the Brain

By Robert Constas, M.D.

             During his recent trip to the United States, the Pope advised not to legalize marijuana.  His concern is shared by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  The Pope and the Academy are aware that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana.   Alcohol removes the control over the emotional brain and exaggerates whatever emotion is prominent in the emotional brain.  

            Compared to alcohol the effect of marijuana is much more subtle.  Recent research shows that long-term regular use of marijuana can lower the intelligent quotient by 8 to 10%.  This can decrease academic functioning especially in adolescents because their brains are still developing. Marijuana and alcohol affect the adolescent brain more than the brain of adults.

            Chronic and frequent use of marijuana leads to diminished motivation to study, to achieve, to improve and to look for a job.  This is called the amotivational syndrome.  It can make a person lazy.