With marijuana legalisation on the rise, an increasing number of studies are exploring the drug’s potential harms and benefits. However, a new study suggests that when it comes to brain health, alcohol is more damaging.
Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder conducted a review of existing imaging data that looked at the effects of alcohol and marijuana, or cannabis, on the brain. Their findings linked alcohol consumption with long-term changes to the structure of white matter and gray matter in the brain.The use of marijuana, however, seemed to have no significant long-term effects on brain structure. Study leader Rachel Thayer, of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, and colleagues recently reported their results in the journal Addiction.
It is estimated that around 22.2 million people in the United States have used marijuana in the past month, making it “the most commonly used illicit drug” in the country. Across the U.S., however, it is increasingly becoming legalised for both medicinal and recreational purposes. As a result of this changing legislation, researchers have been trying to find out more about how marijuana may benefit health, as well as the damage that it could cause.