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Mental Health Center

Heavy Marijuana Use Doesn't Damage Brain

Analysis of Studies Finds Little Effect From Long-Term Use
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10 States OK Marijuana Use continued...

 

Grant says he did the analysis to help determine long-term toxicity from long-term and frequent marijuana use. His center is currently conducting 11 studies to determine its safety and efficacy in treating several diseases.

 

"This finding enables us to see a marginal level of safety, if those studies prove that cannabis can be effective," Grant tells WebMD. "If we barely find this effect in long-term heavy users, then we are unlikely to see deleterious side effects in individuals who receive cannabis for a short time in a medical setting, which would be safer than what is practiced by street users."

 

Grant's findings come as no surprise to Tod Mikuriya, MD, former director of non-classified marijuana research for the National Institute of Mental Health Center for Narcotics and Drug Abuse Studies and author of The Marijuana Medical Handbook: A Guide to Therapeutic Use. He is currently president of the California Cannabis Medical Group, which has treated some 20,000 patients with medicinal marijuana and Marinol.

 

'Highly Effective Medicine'

 

"I just re-published a paper of the first survey for marijuana toxicity done in 1863 by the British government in India that was the most exhaustive medical study of its time in regards to possible difficulties and toxicity of cannabis. And it reached the same conclusion as Grant," Mikuriya tells WebMD.

 

"This is merely confirming what was known over 100 years ago, as well as what was learned by various government findings doing similar research -- marijuana is not toxic, but it is a highly effective medicine."

 

In fact, marijuana was available as a medicinal treatment in the U.S. until the 1930s.

 

Lester Grinspoon, MD, a retired Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who studied medicinal marijuana use since the 1960s and wrote two books on the topic, says that while Grant's finding provides more evidence on its safety, "it's nothing that those of us who have been studying this haven't known for a very long time.

 

"Marijuana is a remarkably safe and non-toxic drug that can effectively treat about 30 different conditions," he tells WebMD. "I predict it will become the aspirin of the 21st century, as more people recognize this."

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