Jerry's Blog

New Study: Even Casual Marijuana-Use Damages Brain

The popular notion that marijuana is largely harmless has led many people to shrug at efforts to legalize the drug across the country. A groundbreaking study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, however, shows that even casual marijuana-use carries serious implications.

The Boston Globe reports:

Young adults who occasionally smoke marijuana show abnormalities in two key areas of their brain related to emotion, motivation, and decision making, raising concerns that they could be damaging their developing minds at a critical time, according to a new study by Boston researchers.

Other studies have revealed brain changes among heavy marijuana users, but this research is believed to be the first to demonstrate such abnormalities in young, casual smokers.

The study examined forty young adults ages 18 to 25. Of the forty participants, half reported using marijuana at least once a week while the other half reported not having used marijuana in the past year as well as indicating they had smoked marijuana fewer than five times in their lives. This allowed researchers to compare casual marijuana users with non-users.

What they found was marijuana-use affects brain development–even among casual users–and that the amount of marijuana a casual user smoked directly affected the brain, with heavier users showing more brain abnormalities.

As we have written before, chronic or heavy marijuana use has been linked to deficiencies in cognitive function, schizophrenia, stroke, and even death. This latest study, however, takes that research a step further, linking even moderate marijuana-use with negative consequences.

This raises a serious question: If even casual marijuana use has negative effects on the brain, how can marijuana be used safely as medicine? If using marijuana as little as a few times a week affects a person’s emotions and impairs their judgment, how can a person use “medical” marijuana at all without suffering cognitively?

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Lottery Approves Monitor Games Despite Legislators’ Objections

On Wednesday the Arkansas Lottery Commission voted to approve “monitor games” despite objections from lawmakers.

According to testimony from the lottery director and members of the commission, these games will allow players to purchase lottery tickets and watch lottery results on flat-screen televisions in places lottery tickets are sold. Monitor game drawings would occur every four minutes, and games would be similar to keno or bingo.

Explained in the cold light of day, the image doesn’t sound too dangerous: People will watch lottery results on a television screen instead of scratching off a piece of paper. The truth is this opens the door for “lottery” gambling that looks and feels more like casino gambling, with people gathering to wager on games played out via video monitors. The fact that these games will run on a four-minute cycle means lottery play will be fast-paced and continuous–two ingredients that factor heavily into gambling addiction.

This means that very soon Arkansas’ bars, gas stations, or convenience stores could operate more like miniature casinos under the guise of the Arkansas Lottery. By designating a lounge or back room for playing the lottery, any business licensed to sell lottery tickets could set up video screens and terminals for playing these monitor games. In the case of bars and restaurants, patrons may be able to purchase lottery tickets and play variations of keno while drinking or dining. The games at this point will not be the full-fledged video lottery terminals you see in some states–which are interactive, with touch-screens that look and function more like slot machines–but these games are a step in that direction.

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Chick-fil-A Trading Integrity for Profitability

Recently, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy told an interviewer he regrets his company’s pro-marriage stance it took two years ago.

Calling the decision to support traditional marriage “a mistake,” Cathy indicated Chick-fil-A’s priority going forward would be courting a new generation of consumers–one who, if you read between the lines, he must feel supports same-sex marriage.

In a move that’s sure to offend both sides, Cathy said that while his personal views on same-sex marriage have not changed, he does not intend to take a public stance on the issue. To put it another way, gay activists who have been boycotting Chick-fil-A have every reason to continue doing so, and conservatives who celebrated Chick-fil-A for their courageous stance for traditional marriage may decide they would just as soon take their business to Popeyes or KFC.

This back-peddling from Mr. Cathy is incredibly disappointing, and it betrays a failure to grasp the significance of Chick-fil-A’s actions these past few years.

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