Study: significant brain differences found even among casual marijuana users

marijuana

Society for Neuroscience News:

The size and shape of two brain regions involved in emotion and motivation may differ in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, according to a study published April 16 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings suggest that recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes, and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

[...]

In the current study, Jodi Gilman, PhD, Anne Blood, PhD, and Hans Breiter, MD, of Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to compare the brains of 18- to 25-year olds who reported smoking marijuana at least once per week with those with little to no history of marijuana use. Although psychiatric evaluations ruled out the possibility that the marijuana users were dependent on the drug, imaging data revealed they had significant brain differences. The nucleus accumbens — a brain region known to be involved in reward processing — was larger and altered in its shape and structure in the marijuana users compared to non-users.

“This study suggests that even light to moderate recreational marijuana use can cause changes in brain anatomy,” said Carl Lupica, PhD, who studies drug addiction at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and was not involved with this study. “These observations are particularly interesting because previous studies have focused primarily on the brains of heavy marijuana smokers, and have largely ignored the brains of casual users.”

The team of scientists compared the size, shape, and density of the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala — a brain region that plays a central role in emotion — in 20 marijuana users and 20 non-users. Each marijuana user was asked to estimate their drug consumption over a three-month period, including the number of days they smoked and the amount of the drug consumed each day.  The scientists found that the more the marijuana users reported consuming, the greater the abnormalities in the nucleus accumbens and amygdala. The shape and density of both of these regions also differed between marijuana users and non-users.

“This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” Breiter said.

While marijuana has been decriminalized in Maryland now, it has not been fully legalized. Opponents of legalization, including Greg Kline, will likely point to this study to bolster their arguments.

Report: Steve Schuh’s temper leads to fireworks at GOP dinner

schuh-ferrari

The Anne Arundel County GOP held their Lincoln-Reagan Dinner last night at Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie (I’ll have more on the dinner itself later.) For a second year in a row, there were fireworks.

This year the fireworks appear to have involved Delegate Steve Schuh (owner of the Ferrari pictured above) and Scott Shaffer. Shaffer is a member of the Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee and is supporting Schuh’s opponent (Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.)

Monday night, Shaffer made this snarky post on Facebook – which was a thinly-veiled reference to Schuh:

shaffer-schuh

Last night, Shaffer was apparently putting up signs for Neuman when Schuh approached him. There were reportedly numerous witnesses to the Schuh tirade that ensued. Witnesses reported that Schuh was “livid” as he “cursed out” Shaffer and yelled at him about the Facebook post above. One source said that Schuh “exploded” at Shaffer and was “bombastic.” Schuh took issue with the Ferrari reference in Shaffer’s post and claimed Shaffer must be jealous of his wealth. Schuh also reportedly argued about the tax references in Shaffer’s post and claimed to not remember the votes Shaffer was referring to.

Schuh also reportedly referred to Shaffer as an “asshole” and a “dickhead.”

Catholic candidate for MD Governor supports physician-assisted suicide

mizeur

Long-shot Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur has come out in favor of physician-assisted suicide.

The Baltimore Sun reports:

“If terminally ill, mentally competent adults choose to end their life, they should be able to seek a life-ending dose of medicine from their physician,” Mizeur said in a policy proposal released late Tuesday.

Three states — Oregon, Washington, and Vermont — have similar policies, dubbed by advocates “Death with Dignity” laws.

Mizeur, a Democrat from Montgomery County, outlined her call for legalization of doctor-assisted suicide along with ideas to help seniors as they retire, age, get sick and approach death.

Here’s what F. Michael Gloth, III, an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Outpatient Services
in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins, has written on physician-assisted suicide:

Catholic teaching condemns physician-assisted suicide because it, like murder, involves taking an innocent human life…

Policy makers and the public are not always receptive to appeals to Catholic moral teaching. Fortunately, well-established principles of medicine and bioethics provide sound and abundant grounds for opposing physician-assisted suicide.

McGloth goes on to discuss many of the medical reasons to oppose physician-assisted suicide. He also points out that both the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians oppose the practice.

McGloth closes with this:

There is, of course, a final reason to advocate for physician-assisted suicide. It is cheaper to kill a person than to provide care. Yet a physician’s first obligation is to “Do No Harm.” Until that is replaced with “Save more money,” it will be difficult to support physician-assisted suicide.

It’s not like anyone pro-life would be supporting Mizeur anyway, but this announcement reinforces the fact that the Democratic gubernatorial field is hostile to the protection of human life in Maryland.

Mizeur has been endorsed by Emily’s List in the race for Governor and in previous bids for office. Her gubernatorial campaign has also been endorsed by the Maryland National Organization for Women PAC – in part because of her position on abortion.

In 2006 Mizeur said:

I fully support a woman’s right to choice and reproductive freedom.

Mizeur has served as a volunteer advisor to Community Clinic, Inc.  which offers family planning services, which may or may not include abortion referrals. In 2011, she received the Choice Advocate Award from NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and in other election years she consistently has received 100% ratings from the group.

Her current campaign website makes little mention of the issue other than saying she was behind the Family Planning Works Act which she says will reduce abortions (Not that we will ever find out for sure since the State of Maryland no longer tracks abortion-related statistics.)

Mizeur’s position on same-sex marriage  (including her own marriage to another woman) is also another place she goes against church teachings.

Mizeur’s campaign biographies in the past have noted that she is Catholic and attends St. Aloysius, which she referred to once as a “progressive Jesuit parish.” She was named to a list of 12 Catholic Women Under 40 Making A Difference by National Catholic Reporter, a source that even USA Today referred to as a liberal outlet. Her current campaign biography makes no mention of her faith.

In 1998, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops noted that:

“Catholics who are privileged to serve in public leadership positions have an obligation to place their faith at the heart of their public service, particularly on issues regarding the sanctity and dignity of human life.” (12) They then declared: “We urge those Catholic officials who choose to depart from the Church teaching on the inviolability of human life in their public life to consider the consequences for their own spiritual well-being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin. We call on them to reflect on the grave contradiction of assuming public office and presenting themselves as credible Catholics when their actions on fundamental issues of human life are not in agreement with Church teaching“. Concluding this passage they then solemnly proclaimed: “No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can reasonably advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life…. no appeal to policy, procedure, majority will or pluralism ever excuses a public official from defending life to the greatest extent possible”.  [emphasis added]

There have been some, including bishops with the authority to do something about it , who have argued that Catholics in public office who support abortion (or physician-assisted suicide) should be excommunicated or denied communion. I won’t sidetrack this discussion by delving into the debate debate right now.

I will just echo the above sentiments from the USCCB, especially the statement calling on public officials “to reflect on the grave contradiction of assuming public office and presenting themselves as credible Catholics when their actions on fundamental issues of human life are not in agreement with Church teaching.”

Poll: Gansler Gaining on Brown

gansler-poll

The above graphic is from an internal poll the campaign of Doug Gansler released (the poll memo is included at the bottom of this post.)

Bryan Sears of The Daily Record has more on the poll:

The poll, conducted for the campaign earlier this month by the Mellman Group, claims Gansler has made up as much as 14 points on Brown in the 2014 Democratic primary contest for governor.

In the internal poll, 31 percent of people who responded said they favored Brown compared to 22 percent for Gansler with 40 percent still undecided.

[...]

In February, the same pollster found in another internal survey that Gansler trailed Brown by 23 points.

In that same month, a poll conducted for The Washington Post showed Brown had a 19 point lead over Gansler with 43 percent undecided.

A Baltimore Sun poll showed Brown with a 21 percentage point lead over Gansler with 40 percent undecided.

Sears also has a statement from the Gansler campaign:

Katie Hill, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said the poll shows that the gap narrowed a public awareness of the failures of the state’s health benefit exchange grew.

“It’s clear that the more Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown tries to rewrite history, claiming that he’s been successful in rolling out a failed health exchange, the more voters realize he’s not being honest with them,” Hill said in a statement. “Voters in Maryland expect real leadership, and they are finding a clear contrast between Lt. Governor Brown’s phony claims of success and Attorney General Doug Gansler’s record of rolling up his sleeves and getting things done for the people of Maryland.”

Here’s the poll memo:

Gansler Internal Poll – April 12, 2014

Watch David Craig’s new campaign ad

craig-haddaway

According to a campaign email the video below is a new campaign commercial by the Craig-Haddaway campaign.

Here’s the ad:

Here’s the email:

VOTE Yourself A Raise!

We all know the necessity of paying taxes. But the only necessity for the 40 new taxes and fees imposed by the O’Malley-Brown administration over the past 7 years was to perpetuate the fiscally insane, tax and spend culture of state government.

Did our state budget really have to increase a billion dollars in each of those years? Did we really have to impose taxes on everything from gas to rain? Instead of all those new taxes, would it not have been better to control the obscene growth of the state bureaucracy?

We know there is a better way and with your help we can change that culture forever. Recently, we proposed a common-sense plan to put Maryland on a glide path to gradually eliminating the state’s personal income tax.

In the coming days, we will be airing a TV commercial highlighting our plan to cut and eliminate taxes. You can view it here. [emphasis added]

The eventual result would be an actual PAY RAISE for taxpayers: $1500 for those filing jointly and $750 for singles.
This tax plan would help stop the thousands of Marylanders who are fleeing to tax-friendlier states every year for one simple reason, they cannot afford to live here.

In fact, over the last eight years this exodus has cost the state over $8 billion in lost revenue.

The truth is I am the only candidate for governor with a plan to eliminate the state income tax. I also have plans to do away with a lot of other unnecessary and unfair taxes, like eliminating state taxes on the pensions of anyone who served the public in uniform.

As Harford County Executive, I cut taxes without affecting services and still managed to build schools, create jobs and preserve open spaces. So it can be done, and it will be done as your next governor.
Remember, on June 24th to vote yourself a pay raise and a tax cut! With your help we can turn Maryland around and make the future brighter.

David and Jeannie