Can Consistent Marijuana Use Result in Brain Injury?

One of the biggest hurdles in marijuana studies is actually procuring the substance — because it’s still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, right up there with heroin or methamphetamines. That means it’s closely regulated. This is true even though there was never much evidence to categorize it as such. But now that marijuana legalization is becoming more widespread, we might discover the real side effects of the drug. Can it result in brain injury? The National Institute on Drug Abuse is researching exactly that subject.

When opponents of marijuana legislation point to a growing body of studies that show how marijuana consumption during adolescence can damage the developing brain. Many of these studies were conducted on animals. When exposed to the drug before birth or soon after, animals would have more difficulty remembering when compared to a control group. But studies on humans sometimes show similar effects — while others show none at all.

What we know for sure is that marijuana may or may not cause brain “injury” during development, but that it can actually be used to treat brain injury for sure. One Virginia brain injury attorney noted that marijuana use after traumatic brain injury (or TBI) can decrease nausea, increase appetite, reduce insomnia, and improve mood — all of which are symptoms associated with TBI.

Using medical marijuana to treat symptoms of TBI and other injuries, illnesses, and diseases can be effective when you realize that consumption changes how your body reacts to the drug. For example, smoking can lead to lung issues — which you don’t need with a head injury. Vaping provides a faster response, which makes it a better option. Edibles sometimes last longer than other consumption methods, which makes it another good choice for anyone suffering from long-term, consistent pain.

There are side effects, however. 

First and foremost, those who are unaccustomed to using the drug will certainly experience being high — which is a sensation not everyone enjoys. Those who use marijuana also have the “munchies,” or increased appetite. Weight gain could become an issue for those with sensitive metabolisms for this reason. Other side effects include, dry mouth, lethargy, and memory issues in the short-term.

As with any other drug, users will want to eat and drink when marijuana is administered.

There is also evidence that cannabis can help slow down the effects of TBI. This is because using CBD or THC can prevent cytokines from circulating throughout the body. Cytokines help increase inflammation in the brain, increasing the chance of permanent damage. Cannabis can reduce inflammation and swelling because it helps the body produce and release minocycline.

Unfortunately, many doctors are still hesitant to prescribe marijuana — even in states that have legalized the use of the drug medically. Doctors are more likely to prescribe the drug when recreational use has been legalized as well. We still have a ways to go.