Brain damage possible from smoking too much high-potency cannabis – Huh? Wha?

Smoking high potency ‘skunk-like’ cannabis can damage a crucial part of the brain responsible for communication between the two brain hemispheres, according to a new study by scientists from King’s College London and Sapienza University of Rome.

Researchers have known for some time that long-term cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis, and recent evidence suggests that alterations in brain function and structure may be responsible for this greater vulnerability. However, this new research, published…in Psychological Medicine, is the first to examine the effect of cannabis potency on brain structure.

Exploring the impact of cannabis potency is particularly important since today’s high potency ‘skunk-like’products have been shown to contain higher proportions of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than they did around a decade ago. In experimental studies THC has been shown to induce psychotic symptoms and ‘skunk-like’ products high in THC are now thought to be the most commonly used form of cannabis in the UK.

Dr Paola Dazzan…said: ‘We found that frequent use of high potency cannabis significantly affects the structure of white matter fibres in the brain, whether you have psychosis or not.

‘This reflects a sliding scale where the more cannabis you smoke and the higher the potency, the worse the damage will be.’

Probably true of most mood-altering chemicals, e.g., alcohol, caffeine…

Doctors want a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising

Direct-to-consumer advertising should be banned in order to reduce the demand for expensive, unnecessary drug treatments, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates voted this week…

The policy also advocates for a campaign to urge prescription drug affordability — including demanding more competition in the drug industry — and for urging more transparency in drug costs; it also calls for convening a physician task force on the issue.

Banning DTC advertising would be a really good idea, said Sunny Linnebur, PharmD, associate professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy…“I can see the potential risks that occur when patients watch commercials and immediately think they need to be on that medication,” she said in a phone interview.

“Number one, it puts pressure on providers — doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants — to prescribe those medications. Number two, patients are not always in the best place to make decisions about which medications they should and should not take, and commercials are targeting patients and can make them think that medicine is for them, when it’s not safe for them.”

In addition, such ads can increase providers’ workloads because “we may have to discuss medications that were never going to be on the table to begin with,” said Linnebur…

The AMA has grappled with the DTC issue before…the association wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services complaining about the misuse of Medicare’s annual wellness visit by commercial firms…“We note that some consumer groups have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the direct-to-consumer marketing of some of these commercial entities on the grounds that their advertisements contain false or misleading representations or material omissions,”…

Overdue.

In economic terms, advertising is often called an “enforced demand”. In real terms, it means the Pharma giants can bullshit their way to increased sales by selling consumers on the idea of magical cures.

Venus under the Spitzkoppe Arch

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Click to enlargeImage/Petr Horálek

…Although there was much to see in this spectacular panorama taken during the early morning hours of a day in late September, the brightest object in the sky was clearly the planet Venus.

In the featured image, Venus was captured actually through a natural rock bridge, itself picturesque, in Spitzkoppe, Namibia. The planet, on the left of the opening, was complemented by a silhouette of the astrophotographer on the right. Above and beyond the rock bridge were many famous icons of a dark night sky, including, from left to right, the Pleiades star cluster, the Orion Nebula, the bright star Sirius, and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. This week, Venus remains visible to the east in the pre-dawn sky, being complemented by Mars, which is angularly quite close.

Thanks, Ursarodinia