Tel Aviv University released a study recently indicating that marijuana prevents brain damage in certain circumstances. Many people are quick to advocate or demonize marijuana, and really, as former users and abusers, we are no different. So, before you go out and get your medical card, here are some things you should keep in mind about the findings of the study.
First, the way THC prevents brain damage is, in essence, by causing brain damage. By inflicting a small amount of damage before or after a traumatic brain injury, the body triggers protective chemical changes that limit the damage that otherwise may be caused.
Note, too, that the mice on which these tests were performed were given a single dose of THC before being subjected to brain trauma; they were not consistently receiving high doses of THC leading up to the trauma.
Also, the doses of THC required to reduce brain damage—rather than cause it—are extremely low. How low? Try between 1,000 and 10,000 times less than a single joint…over the course of days.
While the study does suggest that THC may be used to prevent brain damage, “the low dosage makes it safe for regular use in patients at constant risk of brain injury, such as epileptics or people at a high risk of heart attack. [Emphasis added.]” That is not the same thing as smoking an eight before lunch every day for “anxiety.”
Of course, any study can be brought into question based on a wide array of circumstances. How was the experiment conducted? Over what timeframe was it conducted? Using what sample size? Were the test subjects from the same group, or from diverse backgrounds? Were they raised in the same circumstances with the same diet with the same amount of attention? What about long-term effects? Have any other factors been taken into consideration and/or ruled out?
That said, it is promising that such a study was conducted by an institution specializing in addictive diseases. Although this in and of itself does not add or detract from any veracity of the study itself (if it was done in a truly scientific matter), there is an implication that these researchers are well versed in the nature of addiction and the destruction it can wreak on people’s lives. Then again, it could just be a name.
The reality is that anyone can conduct a study that can come to a pre-determined conclusion. Is it scientific? No. Is it useful in promoting an agenda, profitability, and shaping policy? You bet.
For the record, we are not against medical marijuana. There really may be legitimate uses for it that no other medication can replicate safely and effectively. That said, because of its susceptibility for abuse and addiction, we feel it is best that all other avenues of treatment be explored before going down this potentially dangerous path. If it really is true that marijuana prevents brain damage, that’s great, but it also doesn’t mean we should start lining up at the dispensary yet, either.