Effects of under-regulated or decriminalized regular or light marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco use on the brain – Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography

These are the brains of various substance users, including the marijuana user, center in states with illegal or decriminalized marijuana laws. On the right are alcoholic and various other drug users. Using four times a week over the period of three years, this heavy user’s brain is scalloped out, and damage to the blood circulation in the brain is apparent. In a normal person without any substance use and in continued sobriety, seen at the top, there is no damage to the circulation of the brain. Due to statistics suggesting infection from toxoplasmosis, the information provided here regarding marijuana, which is frequently homegrown may be incorrect. An addendum is provided at the end explaining this. The scan remains an excellent example of light alcohol use as well as the impact of potential parasitic infection or pesticide exposure from using marijuana in a decriminalized or illegal setting.

With the alcohol and other drug users, this looks like swiss or cottage cheese after decades or years of abuse. Interestingly and significantly, an example of a weekend only drinker is provided. The brain still looks completely decimated by the alcohol use, dismissing the concept that just sometimes using alcohol limits or reduces the damage done by the neuro-toxins present in alcoholic beverages. I wondered what might occur with light marijuana use (and much less alcohol use).
After about a year of sobriety (enough time for the circulation of the brain to return completely to normal), this experiment involved use of one half to one full ounce of marijuana and around 36 beers over a 6 month period and getting a single photon emission computed tomography scan which accurately shows brain function and substance use.


Source: The Hanley Center, Amen Clinic, Siemens

Over a six month period, occasional use of around 36 beers, seen following, moderate non-consecutive use and between one half and one full ounce of marijuana, medium quality consumed less than one half of a gram at a time. The damage to blood flow in the brain is clearly beginning in the same areas as that exhibited by an alcohol and marijuana user, though only a fraction of the levels as displayed through heavy use. This indicates positively that light substance use has a legitimate and severe negative impact on multiple areas of cognitive and motor skill functioning as well as emotional processing. It must be noted, however, that in a legal setting the impact of pesticide and parasite free marijuana may be completely different from alcohol, and some studies have connected current light marijuana use with an increase in IQ (though alcohol remains negative regardless of legality). The scalloping seen on the top of the head is light, and most likely caused by alcohol consumption, along with reduced circulation to decision making and memory functions which are likely caused and exacerbated by marijuana consumption as well. Full recovery is expected in less than six months, if in keeping with other subjects. There is currently no permanent structural damage, as expected as well. No significant history of physical brain trauma, ie. head injury or medical problems to rule out. Some prior use of hallucinogens including absinthe, but several years past and not apparent in this scan. Use of marijuana in this scan is after 7 years, and is normal in comparison to a caffeinated scan obtained later from another, non-substance using individual (see above).

Imaging by Eclipse Nuclear Medicine
Facility: The Hanley Center

Addendum: Due to information on infection from toxoplasma gondii and resulting psychosis and schizophrenia that has only been compiled in a meta-analysis in 2014, the impact of marijuana on the IQ may be incorrect in places with legalized marijuana industries. It would appear that the perceived effects of marijuana are in actuality the effect of a small parasite that is present in many cats, the fece of which will infect soil and crops in a home-grow operation for up to a year. The information provided here on the impact of illegal or decriminalized marijuana holds, however, as these laws encourage home grown operations meaning many users will contract the parasite as they will buy from a cat owner at some point. Also please remember that psychosis is pursuant to nearly all child abuse cases, and in 50% of students who were victims of bullying.


Amen, Daniel G., and Martin Waugh. “High resolution brain SPECT imaging of marijuana smokers with AD/HD.” Journal of psychoactive drugs 30.2 (1998): 209-214.

Callender, Thomas James, Lisa Morrow, and Kodanallur Subramanian. “Evaluation of chronic neurological sequelae after acute pesticide exposure using SPECT brain scans.” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A Current Issues 41.3 (1994): 275-284.

Fried, Peter et al. “Current and Former Marijuana Use: Preliminary Findings of a Longitudinal Study of Effects on IQ in Young Adults.” CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal 166.7 (2002): 887–891. Print.

Mariani, Giuliano, et al. “A review on the clinical uses of SPECT/CT.” European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging 37.10 (2010): 1959-1985.

2 Responses to “Effects of under-regulated or decriminalized regular or light marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco use on the brain – Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography”

  1. Paul Andreas Fischer Says:

    I found that the leading precipitating factor in cancer is radiation, and that smokers live 5% longer in rat studies and in human studies adjusted for atmospheric radiation. The concept of strangling my brain, however was not one that I wished to pursue, and I made an important lifestyle change, limiting alcohol consumption to kombucha and communion. Since then I have not looked back, and am the leader of related movements in Vermont. Because cancer such as my grandfather had is one hundred percent treatable if caught in the early stages, I have penned some research which shows that anti-smoking campaigns have cost America millions of lives, though before recent scientific advances and understanding of cancer and the impact of atmospheric radiation, this was not readily clear. I chose the big book, because the tradition coupled with highest success rates make it one that cannot be beaten. Historically I found interest in the movement, and watched films, documentaries and read books on the matter. Anyone can be an addict, given enough of an electrical impulse to the pleasure part of the brain, researchers had a man turning this part on and off for three days without stopping, until he died of exhaustion, starvation, and thirst. This was done in the 60’s and was part of the training I received before ever touching a substance. What was not as clear was that even moderate use of a substance, according to the AMA, damages the body severely and kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. More importantly for me contemporarily, the use of alcohol, a toxin, even in small amounts negatively affects the structure and blood flow of the brain, especially over longer periods of time. While the financial scandals have stopped the DEA from picking up SPECT scans for use in national anti-drug and alcohol campaigns, there is no way foreseeable now that the research on the impact of alcohol can be undermined.

  2. Paul Andreas Fischer Says:

    I used marijuana for 5 to 7 years. I moved to North Carolina, where decriminalization laws were in effect, and then after receiving harassment from out of state law enforcement moved to Germany, where as a citizen I was able to drink. My academic career and athletics continued as I went to a prestigious school in Canada, where my greatest challenges awaited.As the streets devolved into anarchy with protestors in the streets, and everything from communist rallies to armed black panthers helped me begin a musical career and continue making film, I used substances that I believed to be safe and without harm. Transferring back to my home University part way through the degree due to unexplained and undiagnosed issues, I completed a couple internships and continued to drink, though evidence suggesting ill harms of soft drugs discouraged my use. However, with decriminalization procedures in effect in the state of Vermont, I saw that it was once again time to pursue what I perceived to be a healthy lifestyle. Then I was shown a SPECT scan. I withdrew from classes due to spinal issues that had been diagnosed earlier (I had found that schizophrenia attributed to marijuana is caused by a common parasite, and psychosis by childhood trauma). My last couple thousand was spent on obtaining a scan. The results were tremendous. Part of my brain was operating on a higher level. It was clear from this and IQ data that marijuana is not intoxicating, but a healthful supplement. This was not my initial assessment form the information given to me by medical doctors, but following a scandal which found a group of pseudo-scientists in the field to be guilty of corporate espionage, and accepting bribes from major pharmaceutical companies, I was able to make certain statements. Luckily, as a case study, nothing said in my own research and report was untrue. In the following fallout, I am lucky enough, with purely governmental and personal funding, to be one of the last uncorrupted academics in this field of nuclear medicine, an enviable position. Alcohol, however, was shown to be much more dangerous than we had ever imagined. I learned that the majority of alcohol related mortalities due to liver failure are in fact alcohol related. My grandfather passed away of cancer.

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