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Bad news for those looking forward to 4/20: New research has found that marijuana can affect the brain in a similar way to other addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine.
A new study from the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that weed can suppress the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain's reward and pleasure centers.
In particular, it affects the dopamine system in the striatum, a brain area involved in addiction.
Dopamine affects "almost every aspect of behavior, from cognition, to movement, to reward, motivation and learning," Anissa Abi-Dargham, lead author and CUMC professor of psychiatry, told NTRSCTN in a statement. "In this specific study, we found associations to poor learning and memory."
In light of the more widespread acceptance and use of marijuana, especially by young people, we believe it is important to look more closely at the potentially addictive effects of cannabis on key regions of the brain.
The study compared brain scans of 11 adults between the ages 21 and 40 who were dependent on the drug and smoked it daily the month before the study with 12 people who weren't addicted.
“In light of the more widespread acceptance and use of marijuana, especially by young people, we believe it is important to look more closely at the potentially addictive effects of cannabis on key regions of the brain,” Abi-Dargham said in a press release.
CUMC chair of psychiatry Jeffrey Lieberman added that the findings "add to the growing body of research demonstrating the potentially adverse effects of cannabis, particularly in youth, at the same time that government policies and laws are increasing access and use.”
This post originally appeared on NTRSCTN.com