We will post articles and the latest research ahead of the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in Canada set to begin October 17. Marijuana is already legal for medical use while ongoing research continues exploring the benefits and potential harms of using and/or smoking marijuana.

A recent study from the University of Colorado Boulder is hoping to “close the gap” on inconsistent research of how cannabis use affects the brain. The study compared the effects of both alcohol and marijuana use on white and grey brain matter and found that alcohol was linked to affecting both, while marijuana affected neither.

There is currently more research available on the effects of alcohol, as it has been studied for longer and therefore has provided more conclusive results; to the point where it’s almost common knowledge that alcohol is bad for the brain. Current marijuana research on the other hand has typically been aimed to prove either the benefits or the harms of its use, and the findings have been mixed.

This study, however lead by Rachel Thayer, looked more closely not just at alcohol’s effects on the brain, but marijuana use as well, and was simply looking to find out more about how cannabis use affects the brain. Any research that has already tried to seek out this connection has unfortunately provided mixed conclusions. Thayer’s study determined that alcohol is worse than marijuana for the brain, with more damaging effects.

The study consisted of 853 adults with varying uses of alcohol and marijuana. They concluded that those who drank, especially those for a long amount of years, showed a decline in both white and grey brain matter. This presented as a reduction in the integrity of the white matter and a reduction in the volume of the grey matter. There was no affect however of marijuana use (within the last 30 days) on the structure of the grey or white brain matter.

Both grey and white brain matter consist of tissue containing many nerves, and a shrinkage of either can lead to problems with brain functioning. Therefore, according to these results, drinking alcohol is believed to be more damaging to brain health than marijuana use.

There is still more research to be undertaken on the potential benefits and complications due to cannabis use, brain matter included. As its legalization is becoming an increasingly popular move, it is expected that more research on long-term effects; whether positive or negative, are still to come.

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