Marijuana Causes Less Brain Damage Than Alcohol, Study Finds

by : Julia Banim on : 16 Feb 2018 10:13
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The common stereotype of the bamboozled stoner, left befuddled by a few too many funny fags, may not be as true as you think.

Indeed, a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered alcohol could be way more injurious to your noggin than a bit of spliffy clyro.


Indeed, it has now been suggested smoking weed may not even alter your brain structure long-term whatsoever, unlike the much more socially acceptable weekend bottle of wine.

Universal Pictures

This study – which has been published in scientific journal Addiction – investigated the relationship between using alcohol and marijuana and the volume of grey and white brain matter.

Any reduction in the volume of white or grey matter may impair brain functioning.

Columbia Pictures

The study examined 853 people between the ages of 18 to 55 as well as 439 teenagers, all with ‘a range of alcohol and cannabis use’ and the results were rather surprising.

Grey matter volume was noted among both adults and teens who consumed alcohol, however the effects were found to be more pronounced among adults; particularly those who’d been drinking for a number of years.

The integrity of white matter was also damaged in adult drinkers, however this was not the case for teenage drinkers.


The effects of marijuana use were found to be much different; with no relationship found between smoking weed and a person’s brain structure.

Marijuana users in this instance were categorised as being those who’d smoked weed within the last 30 days.

Universal Pictures

Speaking with Medical News Today, co-author Kent Hutchison said:


While marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol.

However, Hutchison also noted how so far, investigations into the link between marijuana and brain functioning have produced mixed outcomes:

When you look at these studies going back years, you see one study will report marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus.

The next study then comes around and they say marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum.

The point is, there’s no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures.

Check out just how harmful alcohol can be for your health in the following clip:


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Further research will be required to back up this study, as Hutchison points out, there’s still so much we don’t know about the effects of marijuana.

Indeed, according to the American Psychiatric Association, there are multiple negative effects for those who take marijuana – teens have higher school dropout rates, higher unemployment rates and decreased life satisfaction.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Drugs


Wiley Online Library and 2 others
  1. Wiley Online Library

    Alcohol 'more damaging to brain health than marijuana'

  2. YouTube/BBC Three

    Alcohol - Britain's Most Harmful Drug | Drugs Map of Britain

  3. Medical News Today

    Alcohol 'more damaging to brain health than marijuana'