Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

What does Marijuana do to the brain?

Marijuana is the colloquial term for Cannabis sativa one of the worlds most popular drug, a plant indigenous to central Asia. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug, which means its changes function in the brain which is different for every individual. The molecule tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in the plant associated with this change in brain state.

Cannabis contains molecules known as cannabinoids which are molecules similar to what we already produce in our bodies, known as cannabinoid receptors, which behind with the cannabinoids. These cannabinoid receptors are located through out the brain and therefore allows cannabis to chemical alter the brain as it acts in similar ways to the chemicals already present in the brain. When cannabis molecules are present in the brain, the speed up the transmission of signals between neurones


transferring information quicker both down the axon and over the synaptic gap. This is done by the excitation of the signal. When a signal normally travels down an axon it is propelled by a series of electrical charges. When THC is present the signals sent down the axon become more frequent, as the neuron no longer has a rest period between each signal. This increase in amount of signals past through the axon, and leads to an increase in the  brains thought process, but reduces your brains ability in other areas, such as memory. The hippocampus is a section of the brain responsible for memory regulation. When the cannabinoid receptors with bonded THC enter the the hippocampus, it reduces the ability of the brain to develop memory, but does not affect pre existing memories. However in a study conducted by

Francesca M. Filbey on long term use of Marijuana can decrease the size of the hippocampus and thereby reducing the long term memory function.

The hypothalamus is also effected when THC enters the nervous system. This is because cannabinoid receptors mainly accumulate in this section of the brain. Cannabinoid receptors are responsible for sending signals to indicate hunger. When THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors, the amount of receptors sending the signal of hunger is increased, and the individual becomes hungry.

There have been a number of recent studies looking at the benefit of Marijuana, particularly how it can assist people with diabetes. In a study conducted by M. Mittleman associate professor of medicine at Harvard, found that Marijuana users had a lower insulin level and were also less resistant to the insulin produced in the body, compared to those of none users. Meaning that people with type 2 diabetes can improve their bodies ability to regulate blood glucose levels.


Although research has identified issues with memory loss in prolonged use of marijuana by teenagers due to their developing brains, other medical issues can be improved with the use of the substance. From the pre existing studies, there has not been any indication to other detrimental health problems solely associated with the consumption of marijuana other than memory loss is certain individuals.  Personally I believe the use of the substances has little negative impact.




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This entry was posted on May 9, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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