What's the Rush, RI?

Advocating for Evidence Based Marijuana Policy

Category Archives: Neuro-cognitive

Cannabis use associated with reduced dopamine release

Heavy cannabis use associated with reduced dopamine release in brain: Effect similar to other addictions.

Source:  Columbia University Medical Center: 
“Heavy cannabis use associated with reduced dopamine release in brain: Effect similar to other addictions.” ScienceDaily. 14 April 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160414214826.htm>.

ScienceDaily Summary:
Evidence of a compromised dopamine system has been found in heavy users of marijuana. Lower dopamine release was found in the striatum — a region of the brain that is involved in working memory, impulsive behavior, and attention. Previous studies have shown that addiction to other drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and heroin, have similar effects on dopamine release, but such evidence for cannabis was missing until now.

What’s the Rush, Research and Analysis Team Note:
Researchers also that in all participants lower dopamine release was associated with worse performance on learning and working memory tasks.  Heavy use was defined as daily for seven years beginning at age 16.

Journal Reference:
E van de Giessen, J J Weinstein, C M Cassidy, M Haney, Z Dong, R Ghazzaoui, N Ojeil, L S Kegeles, X Xu, N P Vadhan, N D Volkow, M Slifstein, A Abi-Dargham. Deficits in striatal dopamine release in cannabis dependenceMolecular Psychiatry, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2016.21

Use during pregnancy impacts on Neurological Development.

Illicit drug use and adverse birth outcomes: Is it drugs or context?

Research has shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which could indicate problems with neurological development. In school, marijuana-exposed children are more likely to show gaps in problem solving skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive. More research is needed, however, to disentangle the drug-specific factors from the environmental ones.

Journal Reference:
Schempf, A.H., and Strobino, D.M. Illicit drug use and adverse birth outcomes: Is it drugs or context? J Urban Health 85(6):858–873, 2008.

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