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Study Finds Alcohol Much More Damaging to the Brain than Marijuana

For years, people who smoke weed have been labelled as forgetful, spacy stoners. Missing a few brain cells? Blame it on the weed.

A new study however, finds alcohol is much more damaging to the brain than marijuana. Researchers at CU Boulder recently conducted a study that not only showed alcohol to be far more damaging to the brain than weed, but also that marijuana doesn’t seem to alter a person’s brain structure at all.

Study Looks at Over 800 People with a “Range of Alcohol and Cannabis Use”

The study consisted of 853 people between the ages of 18-55, as well as 439 teenagers. According to the study, all had a “range of alcohol and cannabis use.”

Researchers wanted to determine the relationship of alcohol and marijuana use and the volume of gray and white matter in the brain, both of which are vital for healthy brain function.

The study showed that adults who use consumed alcohol had a definitive reduction in gray matter volume. White matter in adults was also affected. In teens who drank however, white matter was not affected, although some gray matter was (but to a lesser extent of that of adults).

In adults who had been drinking for years, the effects were especially prominent.

People that used marijuana however, showed zero changes to a person’s brain matter. Marijuana use was defined as people who had consumed cannabis in the last 30 days.

Weed “Nowhere Near the Negative Affects” of Booze

Kent Hutchinson is the co-author of the study. He conducted the study because, to date, there hasn’t been a decisive conclusion to how marijuana affects a person’s brain.

“When you look at these studies going back years,” said Hutchinson, “you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. The next study then comes around, and they say that marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum. The point is, there’s no consistency across all these studies in terms of actual brain structures.”

In the CU Boulder study, Hutchinson’s aim was to find a conclusive answer to exactly how marijuana affects brain matter.

Results of the study led him to make a scientifically sound statement.

“While marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it is definitely nowhere near the negative effects of alcohol,” Hutchinson said.

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