Friends of NIDA host briefing on marijuana research

Institute Director Nora Volkow presented findings on topics such as the likelihood of developing addiction to marijuana and brain abnormalities associated with long-term marijuana use

On March 8, the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) coalition presented a briefing, “Marijuana Use Disorders: Dependence and Treatment Research,” organized by APA’s Science GRO. Sponsors for the briefing included 25 scientific and professional associations as well as the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus.

Institute Director Nora Volkow presented (PDF, 2.64 MB) critical research findings on topics including likelihood of developing addiction to marijuana, brain abnormalities associated with long-term marijuana use, brain differences in adolescents with heavy marijuana use, and addiction withdrawal symptoms. Dr. Volkow further demonstrated the relevance of this research with statistics on marijuana in the U.S. Briefing attendees learned about prevalence of use, emergency department visits involving marijuana, changes in attitudes toward marijuana, and the more than threefold increase in potency of marijuana in the last two decades.

Dr. Alan Budney of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences presented (PDF, 947 KB) findings from his NIDA funded research, focusing on behavioral treatments and determinants of their success. Study topics ranged from motivational incentives to genotypic interactions to adolescent impulsivity to the marijuana-tobacco relationship. Dr. Budney emphasized the need for further neuroscience and behavioral science research to gain a better understanding of marijuana dependence, including the development of innovative, population specific incentive programs.

The briefing was timely in conjunction with news in February that an independent scientific analysis, supported by a NIDA grant, found the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s “Above the Influence” National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to be effective in reducing marijuana use.