(CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY) — As support for legalized recreational marijuana use increases, some have warned that there is presently little research indicating the effects of low to moderate use of the drug. However, the results of a small but sobering study released in April by several Boston-based researchers have shed light on the damaging effects of even casual use of the drug among young adults, according to the Society for Neuroscience. The results of the study may hold import for colleges and universities, which struggle perennially with binge drinking, drug use, and the subsequent host of negative decisions.

The study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, which compared high-resolution MRI brain scans of recreational marijuana users aged 18 to 25 with those of nonusers, found significant abnormalities in the left nucleus accumbens and the left amygdala of marijuana users, even those who smoked just once per week. These regions of the brain are responsible for pleasure and reward, processing memory, emotional reactions, and the assessment of negative consequences.

Previously, the only existing studies on the subject had applied to those who smoked excessively—for example, once per day for approximately three years. This study targets those who smoke only a few times per week.

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