IU Begins New Study on Marijuana and the Human Brain

IU Begins New Study on Marijuana and the Human Brain

Cannabis has been legalized for medicinal use in over half of the United States, and as of November, four states and one district have legalized recreational use for adults. This would make sense as to why half of the people in the United States have admitted to trying marijuana at least once. However, very little research has been compiled on the long-term impacts marijuana use has on the human brain due to difficulty gaining research access because marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Now, thanks to a $275,000 grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health, a team at Indiana University will begin studying this topic, and working to close this educational gap.

The study will be conducted by clinical psychologist and Indiana University professor, Brian O’Donnell (pictured left) and Sharlene Newman (pictured right), who is also a professor and the the director of the university’s brain imaging facility.

how does marijuana effect the brain

The team is currently seeking to recruit 90 participants between the ages of 18 and 35. The study will require a control group, so people who have never used marijuana will also be needed for this study. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines will be used to view and compare differences in brain structure, connectivity and function between those who have used marijuana and those who have not. To protect the integrity of studying the impacts of only marijuana use on the brain, all participants must pass a drug screening to weed out anyone using other drugs like cocaine or alcohol. The subjects must also pass a series of cognitive skills tests prior to final selection.

The study is recruiting research participants at this time, and anticipates beginning the research as soon as all participant spots are filled. The announcement of this study comes at the same time that Senator Karen Tillian released a statement that she will introduce a medical marijuana legalization bill as soon as the legislature reconvenes in 2015. At this time, any use of cannabis is illegal in the state of Indiana.

photo credit: Mike Jackson

Medical Marijuana Bill Ready to Be Filed in Indiana

Medical Marijuana Bill Ready to Be Filed in Indiana

The medicinal marijuana movement is gaining momentum in the United States, and now it may even have a future in Indiana. Senator Karen Tallian, district 4 representative, plans to introduce a medical marijuana bill to the Indiana legislature when it reconvenes in 2015.

Tallian, inspired by the passing of the recent federal funding bill that eliminates raids on state-legalized medical marijuana operations, explained her reasoning for introducing the bill in 2015, in a released statement,

“For this upcoming session, I have a bill ready to file to legalize medical marijuana. I am ready and eager to get to work after this last major federal obstacle has been lifted.”

Tallian has introduced multiple marijuana policy reform bills in the past that would decriminalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana for adults. None of her previous bills have passed despite the fact that, according to the most recent Gallup Poll, 58 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization in the United States. This clear-majority approval rating of 58 percent is a significant increase from 1969 when only 12 percent of people supported legalization.

marijuana support america

According to the Hoosier Survey, conducted by The Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University, marijuana legalization support has also increased in Indiana. The 2012 survey reported that 53 percent of Indiana residents supported decriminalizing cannabis possession for adults. The 2013 survey found that 52 percent of Hoosiers support legalizing and regulating cannabis in the same manner as alcohol and tobacco. Support increased to 78 percent in response to the question, “should marijuana be taxed like cigarettes?”

Currently, the state of Indiana has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. An adult caught in possession of any amount of cannabis less than 30 grams risks up to one year in prison and $5,000 in fines. At this time, these laws stand even if the person uses the marijuana for medicinal purposes.


graph credit: Gallup

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