Marijuana Does Not Kill Brain Cells? New 2015 Study Disproves 2014 Claims

Is an egg frying in a pan a good representation of your brain on drugs? Evidently not! University of Louisville sports fans, stay tuned because the neuroscience department at that school just cleared all pot smokers of their paranoia concerning losing brain cells by smoking marijuana.

If someone tells you that you are killing brain cells by smoking marijuana, you can now tell them with science that they are wrong. A new study published in late January 2015 proves that marijuana does not kill brain cells. This serious research may come as a surprise to some considering most marijuana headlines have to do with older people that drive around in a van with weed in it for almost a decade.

Unfortunately, two big stories in the news about marijuana are keeping this newly released 2015 study subdued for the moment. Regardless, the new 2015 marijuana study may be used in the near future to give more oomph to a study published in 2003 that has been repeatedly used to legalize marijuana across America. That original study that proved that marijuana does not kill brain cells was in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society published by Cambridge University.

Over the first week of February, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, stated on CBSNews that he thought, "We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful, so I think we have to use that data to drive policy-making, and I'm very interested to see where that data takes us."

Obviously, where "the [scientific] data takes us" is to the logical conclusion that marijuana is harmless and needs to be legalized. Adding to the big stories about marijuana, Loretta Lynch, the newly appointed U.S. Attorney General, is proving to be a legal weed grinch. After making inflammatory remarks about marijuana, there was backlash in the media. Lynch was called an outright "liar" concerning her views on marijuana policy by the Reason blog.

The remarks that Lynch made that caused public outcry were quoted by The Washington Times as, "But I can tell you that not only do I not support the legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization. Nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general."

At best, Lynch's attitude can be viewed as an over-reaction when the latest scientific data is reviewed. Far from being a substance that should be villainized for being harmful, The Journal of Neuroscience published a report on January 28 that states clearly that no brain damage occurs due to long-term and heavy marijuana ingestion. The study came about because of a previous research study that showed marijuana caused structural changes in the brain. When the study could not be replicated, the researchers knew that they were possibly dealing with junk science and threw out the previous anti-marijuana research. Published by NorthWestern University in April 2014, the now-refuted study is titled, "Casual Marijuana Use Linked to Brain Abnormalities."

The Journal of Neuroscience study clearly states as follows.

"Recent research has suggested that marijuana use is associated with volumetric and shape differences in subcortical structures... Replication of such results in well controlled studies is essential to clarify the effects of marijuana.... No statistically significant differences were found between daily users and nonusers on volume or shape in the regions of interest.... In sum, the results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures."
Could this be the final piece of evidence needed to legalize marijuana across America?
[All images from the referenced links. Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.]