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Researchers at Northwestern University studied a small sample of patients ages 18 to 25 who use marijuana casually or for recreational use. All patients used the drug differently, some every day, others every month. The study found that young adults in that age group who use marijuana have "significant abnormalities" in the brain. Muskingum Behavioral Health CEO Steve Carrel said the findings are significant because the brain doesn't fully mature until about 25.
"Probably the most significant thing is they actually can see changes in the way the brain works," Carrel said about the study. "Not just the way it works but also the way the brain chemistry is changing."
The study also found abnormalities in the subjects' "working memory," which can affect judgments and decision making, the ability to plan things and the ability to complete and figure out math problems. Carrel notes this study is unlike any other study done on marijuana use.
"A lot of the other studies have looked at very very heavy uses of marijuana. They showed exaggerated results similar to these, but they were exaggerated because of the massive amounts of pot. This one was on casual use and it actually showed that casual use even has an effect on brain development."
The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.