New Marijuana Study Shows It Alters the Brain

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Let's talk about pot.

There are tons of reasons people use marijuana; some alleviate chronic pain with it, some people going through chemo therapy use it to help them regain their appetite, some people use it to help them sleep, and some people just really, really enjoy the high from it. 

The thing is, despite popular opinion, marijuana is NOT side-effect free. In fact, an article from says a new study from the University of Michigan Health System shows Marijuana use dampens the brain's response to rewards over time.

The study monitored the brains of over 100 people in their early 20s, and had them play a game where there was the possibility of winning some money. Over time, the patients who used marijuana showed less dopamine in their brains.

So, what is dopamine?

Synthesized in the brain and the kidneys, dopamine is a neurotransmitter, sending signals to nerve cells during reward-motivated behavior.

Basically, when you do something where there's a reward – like playing a video game – and you finally beat Bowser, your brain is flooded with dopamine, making you feel awesome for completing your task. 

And since people who use marijuana don't have as much dopamine during these tasks, they don't get the pleasurable reward for completing them the way non-users do. In fact, the reward rush shrinks over time. This could impact our drive to engage in rewarding behavior, and according to the study co-author Elisa Trucco, Ph.D., could actually lead to risk of addiction.

So, yes, while there ARE legitimate benefits to using marijuana, maybe users shouldn't partake every day.