Weed. Pot. Grass. Ganga. Dope. Mary Jane. Herb. 420. Hay. Rope.
Almost as many names for marijuana and hemp – these terms themselves are broad classifications of cannabis – as there are uses for these incredibly versatile plants.
The legalization and use of medical marijuana are on the rise, but some still have concerns about its safety. Does smoking weed really kill brain cells? And when does marijuana use become marijuana abuse?
Does Weed Kill Brain Cells?
While the evidence on this is still somewhat inconclusive, most experts agree that smoking marijuana, or using it in any way, does not kill brain cells. The THC that gives you the “high” is not toxic to your body like alcohol, tobacco, and other narcotics and opioids.
Human Endocannabinoid System
In fact, the human body has an endocannabinoid system in place: CB1 works primarily with the brain and nervous system and CB2 the immune system. Between the brain and the two systems, it reaches and affects almost every part of the body. This is part of the reason that medical marijuana is being used to treat so many different conditions.
This does not mean, however, that marijuana usage is safe at any level. Large amounts and frequent usage can be harmful.
Does Smoking Weed Lower IQ?
We have now learned that it is most likely a myth that weed kills brain cells, but does it still lower IQ? The New Zealand study, well-known amongst marijuana supporters and dissenters alike, indicates that heavy or persistent cannabis use started as an adolescent and continued into adulthood has the potential to lower IQ, and those points are not recovered if usage is stopped as an adult.
Conversely, those who start using cannabis as an adult do not seem to have the same IQ decline.
Medical Marijuana vs Recreational Use
The main difference between recreational pot smokers and users of medical marijuana is that the recreational user is usually just after the high for pleasure or escape, while medical users tend to have a specific reason for using it.
As of July 2019, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and DC, and recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states and DC, with many more looking to join each or both groups. While this may be great news for many, for some it is making a difficult problem easier to embrace.
Marijuana is medically used for:
- Seizure disorders
- Pain management
- Eating disorders
- Crohn’s Disease
When Use Becomes Abuse and Then Addiction
As more research is conducted, it is becoming clearer that the younger a person begins regularly smoking weed, the more likely they are to develop a marijuana use disorder. One study indicates that kids ages 12-18 who smoke regularly maybe 4-7 times more likely to have a marijuana use problem that continues into adulthood.
A common belief is that marijuana is not and cannot be addictive, but studies are showing that large amounts of marijuana used on a daily or near-daily basis can result in addiction, and this addiction can ruin lives.
Signs of Marijuana Addiction
Perhaps you are reading this because you Googled “does smoking weed really kill brain cells,” because you are worried about your marijuana use and how it is affecting your life, but are still not sure if you have a “problem.” If you suffer any of these signs of addiction, it’s time to seek help:
- Inability to quit using
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Severe mood swings
- Dramatic changes in habits
- Increased risk-taking (usually in regard to obtaining marijuana)
Is It Time to Take the Next Step?
If you identify yourself in the information above, then it’s time to get more information about recovery and sobriety. Contact Steps Recovery Centers for more information about our services, locations, admissions process, and much more. We are ready to help you take your next step.