Maine Voices: Position on marijuana should be based on science-backed …

January 2nd, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

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Maine Voices: Position on marijuana should be based on science-backed information

The writer warns that risks familiar to researchers are not widely recognized by the public.

SCARBOROUGH — A recent story in the Portland Press Herald (“Legal pot foes fight perception problem,” Dec. 23) highlights the disturbing trend of young people to regard marijuana as harmless.

about the author

Dr. James H. Maier is a retired psychiatrist from Scarborough.

In the article, an important note of caution is raised by Scott Gagnon, director of the Maine chapter of SAM (Sensible Approach to Marijuana) about “the need to get more science-based information out there.”

He cites literature about the increased potency of marijuana available on the street today, and a variety of significant potential health risks by now familiar to clinicians and researchers but not widely recognized by the public.

Brain imaging studies show that the frequent early use of marijuana may affect the as-yet-not-fully-mature frontal lobes of teenagers’ brains. These regions are crucial for planning, judgment, risk assessment and other “executive functions” that make us fully human. In effect, they function as the brain’s CEO, or “conductor of the orchestra,” coordinating input from other parts of the brain.

Damage to these developing regions may ultimately impact many capabilities, including overall intelligence. A recent study from New Zealand demonstrates an average loss of several IQ points related to chronic early marijuana use. Ultimately, this may result

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