New research about cannabis use

Michael Balderstone of the Hemp Embassy in Nimbin is hopeful that new research will help ease the current anti-pot legislation.
Michael Balderstone of the Hemp Embassy in Nimbin is hopeful that new research will help ease the current anti-pot legislation. Jay Cronan

NEW research on cannabis suggests smoking a joint might not be as bad for the brain as it was once thought.

The research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows cannabis users' memories are as good, if not better, than non-users'.

The findings have got pro-cannabis campaigners including Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone hopeful that current anti-pot legislation will go up in smoke.

"I think the Greens will try to get a limited trial of medicinal cannabis happening soon, but it's not going to help the two million regular cannabis users in Australia," he said.

"We've been left behind."

New legislation soon to be voted on in California would see cannabis regulated in the same way alcohol was, he claimed.

Mr Balderstone said the new research was right and cannabis was not bad for memory function.

"I think that when you're stoned, you're spaced out, and some of your short-term memory goes but it does come back," he said.

"If there's a history of mental illness, you've got to be careful.

"But there's not one recorded death from cannabis use.

"Someone might have choked on a plastic bag once trying to eat an ounce or something but that's about it."

Mr Balderstone said "getting busted" was the worst health risk associated with cannabis use.

"You get a criminal record, which you have all your life, and it makes it hard to get a job, and that's when you get mental illnesses like depression," he explained.

Mr Balderstone said the "fear and paranoia of smoking under prohibition" is also one of the biggest causes of mental illness in cannabis users.

The new research on memory function is particularly relevant to Australia and New Zealand as their rates of cannabis use are highest in the world.

Mr Balderstone said the Northern Rivers has a high rate of usage when compared to other regions in those countries.

Topics:  cannabis drugs memory research

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