Marijuana and the NY Times: Smoking away our brains

By Dr. Charles Hodges, author of Good Mood Bad Mood

I have written often about the perils of the recreational use of marijuana and I cannot resist writing again. The cause for my writing is that the New York Times that has stumbled into the reality that smoking pot does little if any good for those who smoke it. And it has the potential for great harm.[i]

In an October 29th article by Abigail Moore titled, “This Is Your Brain on Drugs,” the problems with pot are outlined. The first and most disturbing is that smoking marijuana changes the brain. The nucleus accumbens thickens and among those in the study, the more they smoked the more it thickened. The changes seen are thought to be the source of problems with learning and mental health.

At the center of the problem is an increased concentration of the active drug THC in available marijuana. Since 1995 the concentration of THC in pot has gone from 3.75 percent to 13 percent in 2013. The higher concentration of THC is likely to be responsible for an increased incidence of psychosis and paranoia. Emergency room admissions for marijuana related problems have doubled since 2004.

The adverse affects are particularly a problem in young adults. The changes that occur to the nucleus accumbens have direct bearing on motivation and decision making. There are similar changes in the amygdala that affect the way we process emotions, memories and our response to fear.  “THC can disrupt focus, working memory and motivation.”

Long term effects are a real concern. In one study teens that started smoking at the age of 18 and were then tested at the age of 38 lost 8 points on their I.Q. testing.  In another study the changes in the brain in those who had smoked for 3 years were still present 2 years after they stopped. And, their working memories we impaired. As Dr Hans Breiter said, “Working memory is the key for learning…If I were to design a substance that is bad for college students, it would be marijuana.”

There we have it. The New York Times is not a Bible thumping Biblical Counseling Journal. It is as liberal in its view of behavior and morality as any publication today. The article presents factual information that says that smoking marijuana harms people and their brains to say nothing about the risks of lung disease and cancer.

In spite of that I know that when I publish this blog there will be people who will come out of the woods to defend their favorite pastime. I know that someone will tell me that their great aunt Ethel was cured from some sort disease and because of it everyone should be allowed to smoke ‘em if they have ‘em!

While real, controlled scientific research is to be encouraged into whatever real benefit might exist from marijuana (the CBD portion), the current folk medicine approach is no better than the snake oil salesmen of the last century. Marijuana is a dangerous drug. The New York Times says so.

Christians of all people should have greater respect for their bodies. As Paul said, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1Co 6:19-20)  Now there is a really good reason to not smoke pot!

[i] All the factual information in the blog came from the New York Times article on the web under Education Life,

This is Your Brain on Drugs, Abigail Sullivan Moore, October 29, 2014.

Click here to go to Dr. Hodges’ blog.

Good Mood, Bad Mood
Good Mood, Bad Mood
Shepherd Press