Don't buy the argument that marijuana is harmless, because those who begin smoking the narcotic in their youth are in for problems later on in life, according to Dr. Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and a marijuana researcher at Northwestern University.
"One of the most incontrovertible facts of the addiction research effort with marijuana is that the earlier you start using marijuana as an adolescent, the worse its effects," Breiter told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"The animal research is pretty solid and consistent in pointing to marijuana exposure in animals leading to a greater proclivity to self-administer harder drugs of abuse," he said. "None of us really debate anymore the gateway hypothesis with regards to animal research."
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Breiter conducted a study in which he contrasted people who use marijuana with people who had schizophrenia and used marijuana.
"These were heavy users, heavy chronic users using more than 20 joints a week for many, many years," he said.
"What we saw is that a number of the changes we were seeing in otherwise healthy people who used a lot of marijuana, some of these changes exactly fell on top of the changes you saw with schizophrenia alone, and were worsened in the schizophrenics by adding marijuana," he said. "It got us very concerned."
He also studied casual users of marijuana.
"We looked at people who were regular, moderate but casual users … [but] don't meet criteria for drug dependence. They've had had no interaction with the law … they're not having problems at school, they're not having problems with work,'' he said.
"It turns out that this region of [their] brain that's involved as a hub around judgment decision making also is important for mediating the pleasurable aspects of drugs of abuse."
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