Chronic pot use may cause brain inflammation
While the push for legalized marijuana picks up steam, research continues to show that excessive use can have harmful effects. A study from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona concludes that chronic marijuana use can cause inflammation of the brain, which can damage coordination and learning capabilities. When investigating why the drug had these effects, the researchers learned that cannabis activates immune cells in the brain that play a key role in how the cerebellum carries out functions.
In this study, mice were given THC, the activate ingredient in marijuana, for six days. The mice were tasked with performing several coordination activities, and their ability to learn was evaluated through a test associating a sound with a puff of air. The mice given THC had impairments in both tasks. Upon further investigation, the researchers found that THC activated microglial cells – immune cells in the cerebellum – which caused inflammation in that part of the brain. This inflammation resulted in learning and coordination problems. When the scientists blocked the activation of the microglial cells, the effects of the THC went away.
Other studies have shown that smoking weed regularly may be linked to lower IQ, an increased risk of schizophrenia, and other potential brain-processing issues.