Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: even casual use of marijuana / cannabis alters brain

Reported by the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Experimenting with cannabis on a casual basis damages the brain permanently, research has found.

It is far from being a “safe” drug and no one under the age of 30 should ever use it, experts said.

People who had only used cannabis once or twice a week for a matter of months were found to have changes in the brain that govern emotion, motivation and addiction.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School in America carried out detailed 3D scans on the brains of students who used cannabis casually and were not addicted and compared them with those who had never used it.

Two major sections of the brain were found to be affected.

The scientists found that the more cannabis the 40 subjects had used, the greater the abnormalities.

Around 10 million people in Britain, almost a third of the population, have used illegal drugs, with cannabis the most popular. The research author, Dr Hans Breiter, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said: “This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences. Some people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week.

“People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school. Our data directly says this is not the case.

[...]Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “For too long cannabis has been seen as a safe drug, but as this study suggests, it can have a really serious impact on your mental health.

“Research also shows that when people smoke cannabis before the age of 15, it quadruples their chance of developing psychosis. But very few people are aware of the risks involved.”

I troubled by this study because I know people who act as if smoking marijuana were as much a right as free speech.

What I would really like to see is that people who insist on engaging in irresponsible behaviors then go on bear the consequences of that behavior. The problem is that it’s not only these people who are affected, it’s the innocent people around them. There are the innocent victims of car accidents or theft or the children who suffer because their parents want to “alter their brains”. Those are the people I am worried about.

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New study: teen pot use could hurt brain and memory

NBC News reports.

Excerpt:

Teenage pot smokers could be damaging brain structures critical to memory and reasoning, according to new research that found changes in the brains of heavy users.

Research released Monday in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin showed the brains of young heavy marijuana users were altered in so-called sub-cortical regions — primitive structures that are part of the memory and reasoning circuits. And young people with such alterations performed worse on memory tests than non-using controls, despite the fact that the heavy users had not indulged for more than two years, on average, before the testing.

“We see that adolescents are at a very vulnerable stage neurodevelopmentally,” said Matthew Smith, who led the research team at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “And if you throw stuff into the brain that’s not supposed to be there, there are long-term implications for their development.”

The portion of people ages 12 to 17 who used marijuana during the past month fell to 9.5 percent last year from almost 12 percent in 2002, according to the latest figures from the government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. But that still represents millions of adolescents and teenagers — and the legalization of marijuana has raised the specter that underage people will have easier access.

Adults who smoked pot regularly as teens were shown to have “neuropsychological decline” and “more cognitive problems” than non-users in a study last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This was true even if users stopped using long before the study.

I think these papers are useful when talking to young people about drugs. You don’t want it to be a situation where you are ordering them around based on nothing more than YOUR needs and YOUR beliefs. Then it turns into a head-butting contest, and you can’t watch them all the time. A better alternative is to produce the studies that show the real effects and then ask them what they have on their side. If they are going to rebel anyway, at least you have tried to persuade them rather than control them, and that’s good parenting.

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Leftist Slate to college women: stop binge drinking to avoid being sexually assaulted

Absolutely shocking common sense from the radically leftist Slate.

Excerpt: (links removed)

A 2009 study of campus sexual assaultfound that by the time they are seniors, almost 20 percent of college women will become victims, overwhelmingly of a fellow classmate. Very few will ever report it to authorities. The same study states that more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol. Frequently both the man and the woman have been drinking. The men tend to use the drinking to justify their behavior, as this survey of research on alcohol-related campus sexual assault by Antonia Abbey, professor of psychology at Wayne State University, illustrates, while for many of the women, having been drunk becomes a source of guilt and shame. Sometimes the woman is the only one drunk and runs into a particular type of shrewd—and sober—sexual predator who lurks where women drink like a lion at a watering hole. For these kinds of men, the rise of female binge drinking has made campuses a prey-rich environment. I’ve spoken to three recent college graduates who were the victims of such assailants, and their stories are chilling.

Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

Experts I spoke to who wanted young women to get this information said they were aware of how loaded it has become to give warnings to women about their behavior. “I’m always feeling defensive that my main advice is: ‘Protect yourself. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to the point of losing your cognitive faculties,’ ” says Anne Coughlin, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, who has written on rape and teaches feminist jurisprudence. She adds that by not telling them the truth—that they are responsible for keeping their wits about them—she worries that we are “infantilizing women.”

The “Campus Sexual Assault Study” of 2007, undertaken for the Department of Justice, found that the popular belief that many young rape victims have been slipped “date rape” drugs is false. “Most sexual assaults occur after voluntary consumption of alcohol by the victim and assailant,” the report states. But the researchers noted that this crucial point is not being articulated to young and naïve women: “Despite the link between substance abuse and sexual assault it appears that few sexual assault and/or risk reduction programs address the relationship between substance use and sexual assault.” The report added, somewhat plaintively, “Students may also be unaware of the image of vulnerability projected by a visibly intoxicated individual.”

“I’m not saying a woman is responsible for being sexually victimized,” saysChristopher Krebs, one of the authors of that study and others on campus sexual assault. “But when your judgment is compromised, your risk is elevated of having sexual violence perpetrated against you.”

Stuart Schneiderman surveyed feminist responses to this article.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Before you knew it, Yoffe’s example of responsible parental advice had produced a feminist freak out. From Katie Baker to Amanda Hess to Erin Gloria Ryan to Ann Friedman to Emma Gray the voices of contemporary feminism rose up to denounce Yoffe for, they seemed all to believe, blaming the victim and going easy on the male perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

If I may summarize it, they seemed to be reasoning that when a woman is raped it is not her fault. True enough. Thus, any suggestion that she might have avoided placing herself in a dangerous situation can make her feel that she was at fault, and thus will impede her recovery.

Yoffe was saying that she wants her daughter to do everything in her power, as an individual with free choice, to avoid being raped. Feminists believe that her message circumscribes the freedom of young women and tends to blame them when they are victims of sexual assault.

Feminists want to focus the maximum of outrage against rapists. Any suggestion that a woman might have knowingly herself in harms’ way diminishes their outrage.

[...]True enough, none of the feminists mentioned above says that young women should go out and binge drink. Yet, they are in such high dudgeon over Yoffe’s recommendation that one would easily forgive a young woman for coming away believing that binge drinking was a way to assert her independence and her liberation.

Apparently, feminists believe that liberation means that a woman should be free to do as she pleases when she pleases how she pleases and not to have to suffer any ill-effects. They fail to see that freedom for responsibility is not the same as freedom from responsibility.

Worse yet, Yoffe was suggesting that women, far more than men, possess a specific vulnerability to sexual assault. It inheres in the biology of sex. And she was taking account of the fact that women are generally, significantly weaker then men.

If you take these realities into account, you will be advising your daughter to exercise caution when imbibing alcohol. You will be telling her to act responsibly.

For decades now, feminism has been telling women that they are strong and empowered. Yet, when you tell women that they are strong and powerful you are suggesting that they are invulnerable.

Yoffe’s feminist detractors did not specifically say it, but they must have been seriously incommoded by her willingness to accept the fact that a young woman is weaker and more vulnerable than a young man.

Let us not forget that some feminists, one of them Tufts professor Nancy Bauer have publicly said that equality means matching a man drink for drink and hookup for hookup.

If women are drinking more than ever it’s not because they are following advice given them by men. Most young women today refuse to accept any advice from any man.

While it is well known, as Yoffe documents, that women who get very drunk are more likely to be sexually assaulted, it is also true that women who choose to hook up, that is to perform consensual sexual acts with men they barely know often use alcohol as a psychic lubricant.

This is not surprising. In a previous post, I blogged about feminist professor Nancy Bauer urged women to act more like men in every way, including binge-drinking.

Look at this New York Times article by Ms. Bauer.

Excerpt:

If there’s anything that feminism has bequeathed to young women of means, it’s that power is their birthright.  Visit an American college campus on a Monday morning and you’ll find any number of amazingly ambitious and talented young women wielding their brain power, determined not to let anything — including a relationship with some needy, dependent man — get in their way. Come back on a party night, and you’ll find many of these same girls (they stopped calling themselves “women” years ago) wielding their sexual power, dressed as provocatively as they dare, matching the guys drink for drink — and then hook-up for hook-up.

I think that quote is a pretty good summary of what radical feminism amounts to, in practice. Women avoiding the traditional roles of wife and mother by destroying their own ability to marry and raise children with alcohol and promiscuity. This is very much the design of feminism – it is the goal. That’s why they push for taxpayer-funded contraceptions and taxpayer-funded abortions. Women who choose recreational sex over and over make lousy wives and mothers. This is what feminists want – they want marriage and at-home motherhood to disappear.

Here’s Ms. Bauer’s bio:

Nancy Bauer is associate professor and chair of philosophy at Tufts University. She is the author of “Simone de Beauvoir, Philosophy, and Feminism,” and is currently completing a new book, “How to Do Things With Pornography.”

It’s very important to understand that older feminist women are deliberately pushing young women into situations where they are likely to be raped. If there were no radical feminism, there would be much less rape. Older feminist women will do and say anything to create enmity between younger women and men. It furthers their feminist agenda when young women have this deep suspicion of men – a suspicion that is confirmed by their own poor decisions with alcohol and sex. Old feminists want young women to choose men based on shallow criteria that have nothing to do with marriage, and break themselves up against them like ships on icebergs. That way, women will throw themselves into their careers instead of marriages – at least until they reach a certain age and then determine to have fatherless children. But that suits radical feminists just fine, too.

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New study finds connection between early use of marijuana and mental illness

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Excerpt:

There is a significant and consistent relationship between marijuana use and the development of schizophrenia and related disorders. Schizophrenia is considered by psychiatrists to be the most devastating of mental illnesses. Patients who suffer from it often experience auditory or visual hallucinations, severe social withdrawal and cognitive impairment. Many require frequent and prolonged hospitalization in psychiatric wards.

Schizophrenia affects almost three million Americans—more than six times the number of people with multiple sclerosis, two and a half times the number of people with Parkinson’s disease, and more than twice the number of people with HIV/AIDS. Less than one-third of patients with schizophrenia can hold a steady job or live independently. A large portion (about one-third) of homeless people in the U.S. suffer from the disease.

Though they receive little attention in the legalization debate, the scientific studies showing an association between marijuana use and schizophrenia and other disorders are alarming. A 2004 article in the highly respected British Journal of Psychiatry reviewed four large studies, all of which showed a significant and consistent association between consumption of marijuana (mostly during teenage years or early 20s) and the later development of schizophrenia. The review concluded that marijuana is a “causal component,” among others, in the development of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

A 2007 study in the Lancet, a British medical journal, concludes that using marijuana increases the risk of young people developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. This risk is greatest—up to a 200% increase—among those who use marijuana heavily and who start using at a younger age.

I thought this article was useful for parents who need some ammunition when talking to their children about drugs. Children can be pretty irrational. You show them studies, and they say “that will never happen to me”. That’s just how they are. But at least when you show them the evidence, it might stick in their mind a little more. It’s all in the way you present it, I think. The idea is to be truth-focused and authentic, rather than confrontational. Maybe discuss it as a policy issue rather than a parenting issue.

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New study: marijuana use by teens is linked to permanent brain abnormalities

From the National Post.

Summary:

Smoking a few joints with friends growing up may be the furthest thing from harmless for developing young brains, a new U.S. study suggests.

Teenagers who regularly use cannabis during their adolescent years may cause permanent brain abnormalities by using the drug, and increase their risk of developing serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, a study published this month in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a division of the journal Nature, hints at.

The problems occurred in younger mice but not in older mice:

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, examined the cortical oscillations in mice. Cortical oscillations (patterns of activity of neurons in the brain believed to underlie various functions) are very abnormal in schizophrenia and in other psychiatric disorders. Scientists exposed young mice to very low doses of the active ingredient in marijuana for 20 days, and then allowed them to return to their siblings and develop normally.

“In the adult mice exposed to marijuana ingredients in adolescence, we found that cortical oscillations were grossly altered, and they exhibited impaired cognitive abilities,” says the study’s lead author, Sylvina Mullins Raver, a PhD candidate in neuroscience and neurobiology at the University of Maryland, in a press release with the study. “We also found impaired cognitive behavioral performance in those mice. The striking finding is that, even though the mice were exposed to very low drug doses, and only for a brief period during adolescence, their brain abnormalities persisted into adulthood.”

When researchers repeated the experiment solely on adult mice, cortical oscillations and ability to perform cognitive behavioral tasks remained normal.

[...]“Previous research has shown that children who started using marijuana before the age of 16 are at greater risk of permanent cognitive deficits, and have a significantly higher incidence of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. There likely is a genetic susceptibility, and then you add marijuana during adolescence and it becomes the trigger,” says the study’s senior author Asaf Keller, PhD, Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Maryland.

Now I know that young people have trouble making decisions, and that they have the attitude that no matter what they do, nothing bad will happen to them. But I still think that when you teach a young person, it’s important to appeal to evidence like this and say to them “this isn’t just me telling you what to do, this me me telling you what is true”. Obviously how you impart this information to them is going to affect whether they believe it and apply it to themselves.

In case you need more data, here is some more from previous posts.

Fox News reports:

Excerpt:

Recent research from Duke University in Durham, N.C., found teenagers who smoked marijuana habitually during their adolescence showed a decrease in their general intellectual ability as they progressed into adulthood.

But now, there is an even more chilling possible side effect of cannabis use – an increased risk of stroke.

According to a new study from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, marijuana may double the risk of ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) in young adults – even those who had no risk factors that often contribute to an attack.

[...]Conducting the first case-controlled study of its kind, Barber and his colleagues studied 160 ischemic stroke/TIA patients between the ages of 18 to 55 (an average age of 45), who had their urine samples screened when they entered the hospital.  As a comparison, the researchers examined urine samples of 160 control subjects who had been admitted to the hospital for other medical reasons.

Of the 160 stroke patients, 16 percent tested positive for marijuana use within the past couple of days, compared to only 8.1 percent of the control patients.  According to Barber, the stroke patients were very well matched to the controls, with no differences in age, mechanisms for stroke or other vascular risk factors.

Here’s a study from last year that found that smoking marijuana can permanently damage intelligence.

From the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis are putting themselves at risk of permanently damaging their intelligence, according to a landmark study.

Researchers found persistent users of the drug, who started smoking it at school, had lower IQ scores as adults.

They were also significantly more likely to have attention and memory problems in later life, than their peers who abstained.

Furthermore, those who started as teenagers and used it heavily, but quit as adults, did not regain their full mental powers, found academics at King’s College London and Duke University in the US.

They looked at data from over 1,000 people from Dunedin in New Zealand, who have been followed through their lives since being born in 1972 or 1973.

[...]Professor Terrie Moffitt, of KCL’s Institute of Psychiatry, who contributed to the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said “persistent users” who started as teenagers suffered a drop of eight IQ points at the age of 38, compared to when they were 13.

In addition to looking at studies, it’s important to look at countries that have legalized marijuana, so that we can see the results.

Other countries have tried permissive drug policies have been tried and they have failed.

Excerpt:

Amsterdam authorities say they are to halve the number of brothels and marijuana shops in the city’s “red light” district and surrounding area

The city announced plans to clean up the area a year ago and since then 109 sex “windows”, from which prostitutes attract customers, have been closed. The new measures aim to reduce the number of windows to 243 from 482 last year, a city spokesman said.

Amsterdam also wants to close half of the 76 cannabis shops in the city centre.

“Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see on the surface but they are hurting people and the city. We want to fight this,” deputy mayor of Amsterdam Lodewijk Asscher told Reuters.

The Family Research Council explains how permissive drug policies don’t actually work.

Excerpt:

History provides evidence that legalization of drugs in foreign nations has not been successful. For example, opium was legalized in China earlier this century. That decision resulted in 90 million addicts and it took a half-century to repair the damage.[59]

Egypt allowed unrestricted trade of cocaine and heroin in the 1920s. An epidemic of addiction resulted. Even in Iran and Thailand, countries where drugs are readily available, the prevalence of addiction continues to soar.[60]

Modern-day Netherlands is often cited as a country which has successfully legalized drugs. Marijuana is sold over the counter and police seldom arrest cocaine and heroin users. But official tolerance has led to significant increases in addiction. Amsterdam’s officials blame the significant rise in crime on the liberal drug policy. The city’s 7,000 addicts are blamed for 80 percent of all property crime and Amsterdam’s rate of burglary is now twice that of Newark, New Jersey.[61] Drug problems have forced the city to increase the size of the police force and the city fathers are now rethinking the drug policy.[62]

Dr. K. F. Gunning, president of the Dutch National Committee on Drug Prevention, cites some revealing statistics about drug abuse and crime. Cannabis use among students increased 250 percent from 1984 to 1992. During the same period, shootings rose 40 percent, car thefts increased 62 percent, and hold-ups rose 69 percent.[63]

Sweden legalized doctor prescriptions of amphetamines in 1965. During the first year of legalization, the number of intravenous”speed” addicts rose 88.5 percent. A study of men arrested during the legalization period showed a high correlation between intravenous use and a variety of crimes.[64]

Dr. Nils Bejorot, director of the Swedish Carnegie Institute and professor of social medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, believes the solution to the growing drug problem is consistent social and legal harassment of both users and dealers.[65]

Great Britain experimented with controlled distribution of heroin between 1959 and 1968. According to the British Medical Journal, the number of heroin addicts doubled every sixteen months and the increase in addicts was accompanied by an increase in criminal activity as well.[66] And British authorities found that heroin addicts have a very good chance of dying prematurely. On the crime front, Scotland Yard had to increase its narcotics squad 100 percent to combat the crime caused by the “legal” addicts.[67]

The Swiss opened a “legalized drug” area in Zurich seven years ago and local addicts were given drugs, clean needles, and emergency medical care. Unfortunately, the liberal policy backfired and the number of addicts surged to 3,500; violence surged, too. “Needle Park,” as it came to be known, was a place of open warfare among rival gangs, and even police faced gunfire. Their cars were attacked and overturned. In February 1995, officials ended the experiment, conceding that it had evolved into a grotesque spectacle.[68]

Now are the people who push for legalizing marijuana aware of these facts? Do they think about society will be like if more human beings who have spouses, children and jobs are more able to get their hands on drugs? Will they complain when their spouse loses their job, or they lose their job, and their children suffer? Will they blame themselves, or will they keep on smoking and blame others for their own decisions? We all have to think about the people around us before we do stupid, selfish things.

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