Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Mystery Book | David McDonald for Obama »

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hardcore Stoners Still Faring Better than Hardcore Alcoholics

posted by on June 2 at 16:47 PM

That’s not exactly how the researchers in Australia couched their findings, but that’s what their study shows…

Long-term heavy use of marijuana may cause two important brain structures to shrink, Australian researchers said on Monday.

Brain scans showed the hippocampus and amygdala were smaller in men who were heavy marijuana users compared to nonusers, the researchers said. The men had smoked at least five marijuana cigarettes daily for on average 20 years.

The study, published in the American Medical Association’s journal Archives of General Psychiatry, also found the heavy cannabis users earned lower scores than the nonusers in a verbal learning task — trying to recall a list of 15 words.

For the 15 pot smokers involved in the study, smoking pot all day for 20 years straight shrunk their brains. Of course, if they’d been drinking alcohol all day for 20 years straight, that too would have shrunk their brains, but after only 15 years, the alcohol would have also melted their livers.

RSS icon Comments


this convinces me Dominic. Lets ban the bottle!

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 2, 2008 4:50 PM

only five j's a day? psh...lightweights.

Posted by owsley | June 2, 2008 4:55 PM

It makes me sad that I think I might have become addicted to alcohol.

Now that I want it all the time and more than weed, which it used to NEVER be (that is, my desire used to be much greater to get stoned v. drunk)


Posted by Non | June 2, 2008 5:07 PM

^awkward.... Anyway my (loose) point is that stoners will always fare better than alcoholics because of the non-addiction thing.

Posted by Non | June 2, 2008 5:14 PM

That said, an addicition to handguns would have ended their lives even sooner.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 2, 2008 5:26 PM

That's a bit more convincing than that other study with the guys who smoked 75 joints a day.

List of what, now?

Posted by Fnarf | June 2, 2008 5:40 PM

Good God, five joints a day? Of course their brains are fucked. Excess in anything is bad for you.

Posted by Gitai | June 2, 2008 5:43 PM

Will is correct, once Kurt Cobain switched from slamming junk to smoking shotguns he quickly shortened his life expectancy.

Posted by Bob | June 2, 2008 5:45 PM

5 pin joints a day of low-strength kentucky ditch weed is totally doable for a fortnight.

but 5 fat joints of cancer research chronic? i dare you to do it once, much less for 7300 days in a row.

Posted by max solomon | June 2, 2008 5:48 PM

So, when is someone going to do a study using NORMAL smokers (people who smoke say the equivalent of ONE joint - or less - a day?)

I know, about the same time they start measuring usage in "bowls pwer day" instead of "joints per day"...

Posted by COMTE | June 2, 2008 5:54 PM

Are we 100 percent sure these joints aren't getting passed around?

Posted by keshmeshi | June 2, 2008 7:48 PM

apropos of 10, i always find it irritating that when questioned about my prior cigarette smoking (yes, there, i said it. even though i HATE them now), the questions always pose "packs per day" and i always have to write in "each" and cross out "packs." so, yes, there's not enough flexibility in these surveys, there's no rooms for the light or moderate user in these macros.

Posted by ellarosa | June 2, 2008 7:50 PM

After your brain melts does it really matter what happens to your other organs? I kind of think that's the one I'd worry about the most.

Comte @ 10,

One joint a day is normal? Sheesh, most people I know only smoked on the weekend...and that was only if they didn't have a date.

Posted by yucca flower | June 2, 2008 7:52 PM

@13 - I would say one joint per day is in the moderate-to-heavy usage range for someone who smokes pot as a daily habit. I would guess the average daily smoker uses less, and someone who smokes schwag instead of quality weed would smoke more.

I think Comte's point is that these studies always go way overboard on the consumption. A five joint per day habit is off the charts. It's like they fuck up these studies on purpose or something. Maybe the only people they can find to participate in the studies smoke pot for a living.

EVERYTHING is bad for you if not taken in moderation, so just once I'd like to see a study on a substance that people wonder about, but taken in typical dosages (whether it's pot, cigarettes, caffeine

Posted by Mahtli69 | June 2, 2008 9:34 PM


Yes, that was EXACTLY my point.

Most studies of this type seem to focus on extreme dosage/usage - in which case, why in the world would ANYONE be surprised that, when given for example, 5,000 times the normal daily dosage of some substance, lab rats would develop cancers, tumors, lesions, whatever?

But, of course, most people don't NORMALLY consume such massive quantities of ANY substance - even alcohol, the most commonly abused substance generally used for comparitive purposes. Nevertheless, we're supposed to accept the statistical validity of studies such as these, even though the researchers apparently could only find a mere dozen subjects with anywhere close to the daily intake required to make their findings relevent.

One would think the fact that there aren't that many people abusing marijuana anywhere close to the same level as those abusing alcohol would have told the researchers someting important about the comparitive prevelance of abuse between the two substances, but that doesn't seem to be the point here. If it were, then surely some acknowledgement would have to be made to take into account the obvious disparity in sheer numbers of those who smoke massive quantities of pot, versus thos who drink massive quantities of alcohol. Instead, studies such as this seem predetermined, in the sense of pointing out the quite obvious fact that, if you smoke five joints a day (which almost NOBODY DOES), then it's going to have an equivalent negative effect on the brain as would slugging down, say, a quart of vodka a day, which, unfortunately, a commensurately larger number of people actually do.

Posted by COMTE | June 2, 2008 10:14 PM

Besides, who ever heard of a pot smoker offing himself?

It's always the drunks and the heavy druggies, not the potheads.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 3, 2008 1:14 AM

A large number of my college friends got really into pot. Five joints a day is light usage! I watched these people do multiple 5 liter bucket-bongs every day. Joints were smoked continuously, simply as a social thing. Not one of them graduated, of course.

Most of them managed to find work in the end, often pretty technical, as these were smart people, but usually the job was kinda leftfield in some way that let you keep the habit going (Okay, so one guy now lives in a beach cave in Portugal). And they're all still doing it, just not quite as heavily.

To clarify, this was in the SE of England in the early 90s when rave culture was in full swing, but I don't think my experience was abnormal :)

Posted by Sto | June 3, 2008 6:31 AM

I'd also note that the cognitive test that they're describing, memorizing random word lists, was first employed during one of the earlier long-term, extremely high-user studies (Costa Rican study? I can't recall off the top of my head). They weren't able to pick up any differences with the standard battery of tests, so they threw a whole slew of other tests at their subjects and reported this as the only one in which they could find a (barely) statistically significant difference. They reported their findings as "subclinical".

Posted by Bison | June 3, 2008 8:43 AM

@17: your experience was unusual.

Posted by max solomon | June 3, 2008 9:28 AM

@19: Not at all unusual, especially in London and its Home Counties (England) the early '90's. I witnessed the same things when I was at the University of Surrey from '90-'93.

Posted by Eh By Gum | June 3, 2008 12:10 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.