We’re all pretty familiar with the stereotype of the long term stoner. In particular, Jeff Bridges’ character “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski comes to mind. Is there any credence to the stereotype? Can you become permastoned? What does long term cannabis use actually do to your brain?
In the past it has been difficult for scientists to conduct research and clinical trials on cannabis in the US. This is because cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, meaning it is classified as a “dangerous substance with no medical benefits”. We know that this is not true. There are in fact many medical benefits of cannabis, from treating nausea to neurological disorders.
In the past couple years there have been more studies done on the long term effects of cannabis use than in the past. In a study conducted by Dr. Igor Grant of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), results show that many of the effects that have been previously attributed to long term cannabis use are completely unfounded.
One of the things that Dr. Grant’s research showed was that there was no evidence to support the claim that cannabis use either causes, or increases chances of developing schizophrenia in adults. Results might be different for adults who began using in their teens, but this is because the brain is still developing, which it continues to do until your mid-twenties. Furthermore, Dr. Grant maintains that the causes of schizophrenia are more likely genetic, than by cannabis use.
Let’s look at cannabis use and memory. A study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2002 conducted research on a group of 77 heavy cannabis users (smoked more than 5000 times in their lifetime) for 28 days after they quit smoking cannabis. The control group was made up of 87 light cannabis users who had smoked no more than 50 times. The different groups were given memory tests on different days. On day 7 the heavy users showed memory impairment, but by day 28 there were few differences between the two groups.
Smoking cannabis can cause long term physical damage such as bronchitis, but this can be an issue with smoking any substance, and also why some users prefer to ingest their cannabis. No one has ever overdosed on cannabis, which is not the case with other substances like alcohol. The only way that we will ever know more about cannabis is if the government declassifies it as a Schedule I substance. Only then will the scientific community be able to conduct the research that it needs.
So, can you become “permastoned?” The answer right now seems to be no, you cannot. The thing to bear in mind when you are reading results of studies regarding cannabis use, (or any research) is who is conducting the research, and how might they be biased? There have been some studies conducted by anti-marijuana groups where the research methods don’t appear to be scientifically sound (sample might be too small, etc). Use your best judgment.
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What are your thoughts? Do you feel that you are “permastoned?” Let us know in the comments!