Societal impact of currently under-regulated legal substances: Alcohol and Marijuana in comparison to lead

As seen in the Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography scan imaging, the cognitive damage from alcohol is legitimate; there is damage being done to the brain in significant and substantial amounts over any amount of use. In a heavy marijuana user, one region of the brain increased in function and activity, while the rest remained strong. It would appear that humans have become used to a level of alcohol (a naturally fermenting fruit rotting on the tree at late harvest will not have alcohol over .5%). For adults, while the damage is not permanent, it is significant, and by removing the toxins the brain has the capability of returning to normal. See the video below, posted before, to see an example of this.
 
 
What is the impact of this? It was in low and moderate marijuana users found to be nearly 5 points on average an increase in IQ (Fried et al.); there have been studies that suggest marijuana has a detrimental effect, though this can be attributed to increased levels of toxoplasmosis gondii as marijuana is grown in greater amounts in home operations and has exposure to cat feces and has only been observed in states with illegal or decriminalized marijuana laws and recent exposure of leading anti-marijuana academics as corrupt and accepting corporate bribes without disclosing their anti-marijuana bias (Fang). Of low and moderate alcohol users: a “number of studies have noted a measurable diminution in neuropsychologic parameters in habitual consumers of moderate amounts of ethanol” (Eckardt). Taken into context, the estimated damage of lead poisoning (affecting the majority of Americans before the 90’s or so, but today only affecting a minority) is 5-10 points  (Bellinger). Translated, as seen on the graph below, this means that the first toxin a population is exposed to will reduce the number of gifted (IQ of 125+) by 80% while when multiple of these are introduced, the bell curve flattens and the damage from 15 points for example will well within 85% (How Pollutants Affect Brain Development). Due to this nature of the bell curve and the improving environmental standards in the United States, there is now the capability to definitely recommend the regulation of alcoholic drinks and foods to under .5 percent.

godwin-fig2-600

 

 
 
It should be noted, however, that this graph is not perfectly accurate, and there is a skew on the graph towards a lower IQ where the population is more gradual, as seen demonstrated in actual IQ data below. This means that the effect that is being observed on the high end of the scale is “mirrored” on those with functional or mental retardation and with some substance there is no noticeable effect, and at some point there is an amount at which the number dramatically increase (closer to 20 or 30 points, perhaps associated with illegal narcotic or prescription drug use). An example of this can be seen by looking at the Chinese economy following the legalization of hard drugs in the 1800’s which was associated with a loss of approximately 95% of the economy (Major Economies’ Share of Global GDP, 0-2005) in just a few generations.
 
 
 
The economic impact of the loss of the gifted group is real, as IQ is directly correlated with achievement, productivity, and income. While the income difference between 90 and 110 IQ points is in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, from 110 to 125 or 130 can be over 500,000 dollars annually (seen below). So it may only be two percent of the population that is substantially impacted by lead poisoning or unregulated alcohol and marijuana, but the impact to the economy is exponentially greater. This can be seen in the change in the workplace today, populations with clean environments, high-tech industry and low substance use rates have averages of 10 or 20, sometimes just 5 or 6 employees for each manager. Low tech industry in the 1960’s involved hundreds of employees per manager or executive in companies and poorly qualified supervision. In countries and parts of the US with low environmental standards or high use rates this can continue to be seen, both legally and in illegal sweatshops.
 
 
income
 
By regulating the use of these substances to fall within safe levels, the cultural and societal benefits can be retained, while creating an artificial “Flynn” effect, where environmental factors such as health care, nutrition, or mating and marriage regulation and rules gives a boost to the population as seen below.
 
800px-Phenotypic_plasticity_diagram.svg
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 most severe perceived negative 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.
 
 
Bibliography:
 
Bellinger, David C., Karen M. Stiles, and Herbert L. Needleman. “Low-level lead exposure, intelligence and academic achievement: a long-term follow-up study.” Pediatrics 90.6 (1992): 855-861.
 
Eckardt, Michael J., et al. “Effects of Moderate Alcohol Consumption on the Central Nervous System*.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research22.5 (1998): 998-1040.
 
Fang, Lee. “Leading Anti-Marijuana Academics Are Paid By Painkiller Drug Companies | VICE News.” VICE News RSS. VICE News, 7 Sept. 2014. Web. 20 Dec. 2014.
 
 

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.

 

© MCT
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.

Bibliography:

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.

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