According to a new study made by King’s College London, the use of high potency or “skunk” cannabis —marijuana— is linked to damage to a part of the brain that carries signals between its right and left hemisphere.

Although there are many studies on the effect of cannabis, in both the brain function and morphology, this is the first study that could compares the effects of the different types of cannabis on the brain.

Photo: AFP/ Leon Nea.
Researchers found that high levels of THC modify the effects that cannabis has on a person’s health, particularly on the brain. Photo: AFP/ Leon Nea.

Modern high potency products –sinsemilla or skunk– in “street cannabis” have been found to have higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is an active ingredient in cannabis responsible for its damaging effects on the brain. Also, lower levels of cannabidiol were found, which has been thought to have benefits on the brain, according to the study published in Psychological Medicine this week.

Average marijuana contains about a 4-5 percent concentration of THC, while skunk marijuana can contain levels reaching the 14-15 percent. THC, among other effects, damages the white matter of the brain, known as the corpus callosum (CC).

The CC, among other functions, is in charge of the connection between both brain’s hemispheres, and its neuronal damage could possibly lead to mental illness or symptoms of psychosis.

“If you look at the corpus callosum, what we’re seeing is a significant difference in the white matter between those who use high potency cannabis and those who never use the drug, or use the low-potency drug.”, as said by Paola Dazzan, the lead author of the study.

A statement made by Dazzan compared the effects and control of marijuana’s use to alcohol by stating that people should think of marijuana as they think of alcohol, in terms of that the several alcoholic beverages –wine, beer, or whiskey– have different effects on a person’s health, and that, when it comes to cannabis, these same terms apply.

Also, Dazzan said that health workers and policeman need to pay more attention not only to how often cannabis is used, but also to what type is being used, in order to help researchers to raise awareness on the possible mental and health consequences that these substances can have on people.

Source: I4U News