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Pot smoking can damage young brains: study

TT/David Landes · 9 Nov 2009, 17:38

Published: 09 Nov 2009 17:38 GMT+01:00

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“New research indicates that even very modest use can cause a lot of damage,” Nils Stenström of the National Institute of Public Health (Statens folkhälsoinstitut), told the TT news agency.

For a number of years, cannabis use among Sweden’s young people has been declining, but the downward trend in use may be coming to an end.

“Unfortunately, there are signs in the most recent studies that this positive trend has been broken. An increased use of cannabis has been reported among both students in grade nine as well as by students in their second year of high school,” said Stenström.

The Institute of Public Health recently completed a review of international research on marijuana carried out through 2008. The report shows that the drug is anything but harmless.

The report, entitled Skador av hasch och marijuana (‘Damages caused by hash and marijuana’), highlights research showing that marijuana can cause schizophrenia and psychosis.

“Cannabis can bring about the onset of latent psychiatric illnesses and the drug can cause serious psychiatric illnesses on its own,” said Stenström, adding that the view of cannabis as a “light” drug is “misleading”.

Several new studies also show that teenagers who only occasionally use marijuana can run into problems.

Story continues below…

“The young brain which is under development is especially vulnerable. It shows that cannabis can cause damage which can, among other things, reduce memory capacity and the ability to learn,” said Stenström.

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TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:27 November 9, 2009 by bocale1
of course, of course... Instead the amount of alcohol people are used to drink here at all ages is good and healthy... ahh, please, let's talk about some more serious...
19:15 November 9, 2009 by Radical1
Exactly bocale1!!
20:17 November 9, 2009 by Bumblebeetuna
Wow! Science is really coming along.
21:06 November 9, 2009 by Gwrhyr
Teenagers shouldn't drink or smoke cannabis due to their still-developing brains and bodies, that is obvious.

But this study the publicity it's meant to generate is entirely politically motivated. I think it would be quite interesting to see what research they were actually compiling and looking at. Remember, this isn't first-hand research, Sweden simply does not do research about cannabis so this is a study looking at international research. While I don't question at all the premise that cannabis isn't good for developing bodies, I do question this study as being politically motivated, because there is more international research showing that cannabis is not as dangerous for fully-grown adults as many believe it to be.

The real reason this article was commission by Statens folkhälsoinstitut is due to the growing amount of Swedes questioning Sweden's strict, zero-tolerance stance towards cannabis when most countries are lightening up cannabis regulation. Whenever there are stories on Swedish news websites about cannabis, most comments are now questioning Sweden's stance, especially since the zero-tolerance approach has completely failed in preventing the spread of the use of cannabis in Sweden as recently Sweden has become supposedly self-sufficient in home-grown cannabis production.
23:04 November 9, 2009 by Caribbean guy/Swedish Gal
and im a virgin hahaha..crazy swedes
23:32 November 9, 2009 by Luke35711
What I am concerned about is the amount of pro soft-drug propaganda which passes for science, and which one can find in some popular science magazines. I won't go into names, but some of the largest circulation international popular science magazines seem to be loosing the ability to discriminate between science and politics!
23:34 November 9, 2009 by thelionking
Bocale 1 you said it all....Nite Sweden
02:58 November 10, 2009 by volvoman9
Why do you think they call it dope? Of course cognitive ability is impaired...is this not the reason we use it?
08:42 November 10, 2009 by si
Hard to get hold of in Sweden, these "researchers" must have access to the good stuff..
08:59 November 10, 2009 by Renfeh Hguh
Sweden's education system produces a large number of highly educated young people with bachelor and masters degrees, but there are not the jobs in the market place for them. Unemployment across the country is high and yet Sweden still needs immigrants to fill the shitty jobs that Swedes do not want to do.

If this finding is true, then Sweden should allow a certain level of dope smoking to produce the next generation of sh!t-kickers. Then those who avoid the smoke have a better chance of getting a good job because of less competition and then Sweden can reduce immigration and let the dope heads clean our offices and pick up the garbage to earn money for their next fix.

Problem solved!
09:35 November 10, 2009 by unt9
I heard the same about alcohol.
10:34 November 10, 2009 by Beynch
These types of predictions have come and gone over the years. It is easy to surmise that some of this is nothing more than moralizing by those who really don't know. It would be nice to hear the truth for a change. Is it the truth this time? Or may we read the opposite six months from now. I would say that anything which alters your state of mind is no good, but then again, I really don't know. It is the mixed messages that make things worse, and which are therefore ignored.
10:41 November 10, 2009 by Hairdont
I heard the same thing about Big Macs, but then they generate tax revenue. Wait a minute....
11:23 November 10, 2009 by pintoflex
Oh sure. Everybody knows Marijuana turns the youngsters to psychopathic violent human buttholes (or was it alcohol?)

Encourage them to drink alcohol! Send the youth to System Bolaget - this way the state can make some money and the kids can kick each other senseless, have careless sex and wake up the following day in their own pool of vomit and not really remembering anything to be embarrassed about the next morning. hell, everybody else does it. including mommy and daddy.

Anybody took a metro ride after 10 oclock at night in stockholm?

It's an uglier scene than anything marijuana can cause.
12:32 November 10, 2009 by misssh
did someone say weed???
14:29 November 10, 2009 by Rebel
Good thing Swedes guzzle alcohol like a baby sucks on a bottle. That is certainly a healthy alternative to marijuana.

Strange though, how many people die each year using marijuana as opposed to alcohol?
17:35 November 10, 2009 by Gwrhyr
Renfeh Hguh: hahahahahahaha. Funny.
08:50 November 12, 2009 by spy
Admit it - you lot are all paranoid introverts who sit in your bedrooms smoking dope and playing on your computers.
09:11 November 12, 2009 by Swenglishman
Interestingly, the Top Scientific adviser to the British Government on drugs has recently been sacked by the governement for saying that canabis is less harmful than alchahol or cigerettes and that there is no evidence of increased psychotic illnes. He suggested the drug should be downgraded from a category B drug to a Category C drug. For this he was fired. Days later a number of his collegues resigned in support.
09:56 November 12, 2009 by Qinx
Funny how we here in Holland still have the ability to walk and breath at the same time. Oh wait...
14:02 November 12, 2009 by misch
Oh great ... a research paper about marijuana use that gives us no new information and is clearly politically motivated. Smashing. The irrational fear of marijuana that soaks though the Swedish society is funny to say the least ... Especially considering the nation's dysfunctional relationship with alcohol.
14:41 November 12, 2009 by Bob Jacobson
One of the earlier posters put it best, in terms of describing Swedish paranoia regarding "narcotics" (any drug other than alcohol or prescribed pills): "I would say that anything which alters your state of mind is no good...." Put that way, let's can education first. And certainly religion. And skiing.

I was going to write about this from the perspective of California, a society four times as large as Sweden's and infinitely more diverse, which has gradually ended prohibition of marijuana -- instituted in the USA in the 1920s to discourage Mexican migrants, whom it was supposed were all marijuana fiends, from immigrating -- in a series of stages over the last ten years. Next year, a popular vote on a ballot initiative is expected to totally legalize marijuana for adult use.

After decades of illicit and now legal use of the herb, Californians have yet to experience the armies of schizophrenics that apparently terrorize Swedish society. Instead, our police are turning their attention to serious crime, the gangs are having their incomes taken away, the jails are unloading victimless "criminals," and society isn't oppressed as much as before. We don't have dogs patrolling our vehicles, scaring the moderate 95 percent into line in order to "protect" the evil five.

I think I will write this up as an editorial for The Local. There's more to be said besides reacting to the Statens Folkhälsoinstitut's baldly self-serving, propagandistic report.
15:47 November 12, 2009 by uunbeliever
The dope said what? I smoke pot all the time and. . .mmmmmmm macdonalds. . . .
15:48 November 12, 2009 by iSynic
Two things.

First, there's virtually nobody who is pushing for legalization of cannabis thinks it's 100% harmless. But we do know (and are supported by countless studies) that it causes far less damage both to health and society in comparison to alcohol. To stop one single episode of pyschosis you would need to stop 5,000 young men aged 20-25 from ever consuming cannabis. Seems like a pretty small risk to me. You offer no scientific numbers, just say that it's bad for teenagers.

This brings me to my second point. You're implying that those of us pushing for cannabis law reform think teens should have access to it. No responsible adult pushing for the legalization of cannabis (and there are a lot of us) thinks it should be accessible to teens. Legalizing cannabis would only serve to protect our children.

As long as cannabis is illegal it will be easier to get at than alcohol. As long as we depend on back alley crone's to sell it on the underground, there's no way to ensure it's not being sold to children, nor to ensure that there aren't toxic additives or verify the strength of strains being sold. Regulating the sale of cannabis would only serve to protect our children and society as a whole. Dealers don't card.

Keeping Cannabis illegal and unregulated makes no sense. Cannabis itself has a virtually nonexistent toxicity, it is primarily the smoke itself that causes concern. Even the smoking risks have less social costs asssociated with them when compared to drinking alcohol. In addition, Vaporization virtually eliminates the concerns of carcinogens in cannabis.

As for addiction, only 9% of those that consume cannabis become dependant; as opposed to 35% with nicotine or 15% with alcohol (both legal).

Also, unlike alcohol, cannabis does not fuel aggressive behavior. Ask a police officer the last time they had to stop an assault where cannabis consumption was involved. Then ask the last time they got a call to take care of an assault where alcohol consumption was involved. You will hear them state repeatedly that alcohol fuels aggressive and potentially violent behavior whereas pot does not.
22:30 November 12, 2009 by Gwrhyr
iSynic, you make a really good point. Oftentimes in the Swedish (non)debate about cannabis the pro-legalization side is accused of wanting to let cannabis loose on the youth. That attitude is incredibly irrational considering that the current policy has not prevented the use of cannabis among teenagers from growing and has also not prevented Sweden from becoming self-sufficient in cannabis production. These people ought to be won over to the legalization and regulation side by their own desire to prevent teens from using it, as it is really the current policy that lets cannabis loose on the youth. It's really complete denial because many of these people say that we shouldn't add a new drug into society... that view fails to realize that it already is a drug in society and has been for decades.

Let's not be afraid of nature, folks. Let's respect it, learn about it, and give adults the freedom to enjoy it responsibly if they wish. And for the people who end up dependent, referral to healthcare (paid for by cannabis taxes) is much more effective than dooming them to fängelse.
16:17 November 13, 2009 by NCP
Drinking alcohol can damage young brains.

Smoking tobacco can damage young brains.

But the government makes large amounts of money of both. Discuss.
19:19 November 13, 2009 by LazyDog
Work is killing me but thats aloud he he he I could do with a smoke. Jeebus Im bored lol. I prolly have brain damage :( but i still have to go to work. At my age i think i should be aloud to decide what i put into my body and not a bunch of squares. Make it legal but don't tax it to high :P
03:27 November 14, 2009 by beeker
Hey, Portland, Oregon USA now has two Cannibis cafes. Must have medical marijuana card, which is easy for doctor shoppers to get, to get in. US federalies are no longer interested in interfering with states legalized Mary Jane usage, but cops will still go after anyone using or selling near a school.
10:37 November 22, 2009 by lingonberrie
Weak links in the chain are selected out, and the collective gene pool is that much better-off.

I have nothing against those who wish to hasten their demise with drugs and immodest alcohol consumption, or eating themselves to death. Populations are are made stable as a result of their choices and everyone benefits.

The tragedy are those unborn who had no choice, or those young children who suffer second hand results and worse from the choices of their numb skull parents
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