Researchers in France have released a study that shows a potential link between heavy marijuana use and damaged eyesight. The study was conducted on a small group of regular marijuana users and a small group of people who do not use marijuana. Tests were conducted to gauge how long it took for the subject’s brains to recognize a small light. The results appeared in JAMA Opthalmology.
“Our findings may be important from a public health perspective since they could highlight the neurotoxic effects of cannabis use on the central nervous system as a result of how it affects retinal processing,” explained researchers.
Since the study was small and the first of its kind, there will need to be larger, more extensive research groups in order to find out if there is a real link between marijuana use and poor eyesight. However, the research indicates that there is a strong association that marijuana is somehow negatively impacting retinal ganglion cells within the eye.
Researchers are also unsure of the impact of retinal delays. Some have warned that this could be an indicator of more extreme issues, while others are calling for more research. Regardless of the outcome though, these types of studies provide a different take to marijuana than most people are getting.
There has been a shift in how people view recreational and medical marijuana use that it can be difficult to get all the information. While heroin, cocaine, painkillers and methamphetamine are certainly more harmful than marijuana in so many ways, there are multiple physical and mental side effects caused by cannabis that are continually being documented. Studies like this one show that there is still so much more to learn about the drug, especially as use of it continues to increase.
The impacts of widespread, repeated use seem to be more harmful than many proponents would care to admit. From a treatment perspective alone we see that people do become dependent on the drug, despite the advocates’ claim that it is not addictive.
A popular debate surrounding marijuana has been whether or not it is a “gateway” drug. A “gateway” drug is a substance can make it more likely that a person will use more drugs afterward, especially those considered to be heavier drugs. Many people have argued that marijuana is one of these gateway drugs and therefore should not become legal in the United States, while proponents of the drug say that such a claim is not true.
Now there is additional information that has been made available indicating that marijuana use does indeed increase the chances for people to wind up using other drugs as well. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute decided to look into this debate to determine if there is any validity to the claims that marijuana is a gateway drug, and their results were published in JAMA Psychiatry.
After studying information gathered from approximately 34,000 adults of a prior survey, they were able to conclude that there appears to be a connection between marijuana use, tobacco, alcohol and other illicit drugs. The study included people from many different age ranges and backgrounds, so it wasn’t just confined to a particular set of people, such as college students, though the effect it has on that population was of interest to some.
“The sample of this study is adults age 18 or above and not necessarily all college students. However, because college students are in an important developmental stage in terms of both physical and intellectual growth, risky use of marijuana and its potential consequence of drug use disorders can have particularly adverse effect on college students,” explained Ziming Xuan, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health.
In addition to this information, the study also pointed out that the use of the drug can result in heavier abuse and dependency. Although this fact has been debated, there definitely are people who become addicted to marijuana and need treatment in order to regain control over their lives.