According to new research from the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas Dallas, marijuana can actually change how our brain uses oxygen.

Dr. Francesca Filbey is the director of Cognitive Neuroscience Research in Addictive Disorders at the Center for Brainhealth. She and a team found that those who used marijuana chronically had higher cerebral blood flow and extract more oxygen from brain blood flow than those who do not use marijuana. The team also found that the rate in how oxygen is metabolized in the brain was higher in the users compared to the non users.

The study was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology and had 74 cannabis users and 101 nonusers. They were matched for age and IQ. The chronic users reported that they have used marijuana at least 5,000 times in their life and had used it on a daily basis for 60 days leading up to the study. They were however required to not use marijuana for 72 hours before the study.

The researches cannot say for certain if marijuana is the cause of these changes as there could be underlying conditions causing them.

Filbey remarked that the brain changes related to chronic marijuana use is unclear.

“Past marijuana research has shown changes in cognitive functions such as memory and executive functioning. Our study seeks to understand the possible neurophysiological mechanisms that may drive these cognitive changes,” she explained.

“Currently, cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug. As it becomes more widely legalized, understanding neurophysiological alterations and its effects on the brain’s health and performance are becoming increasingly relevant,” Filbey said.

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