What Does “Every Brain Matters” Mean?

Posted on January 8, 2024 View all news

As marijuana’s use spread, (it was viewed) as different from other drugs. It didn’t merely cause users to hallucinate, like other psychotropics. Or excite them, like cocaine. Or disinhibit them, like alcohol. Instead, especially in large doses, it produced all three effects at once. It led to a delirium indistinguishable from insanity and often accompanied by violence.”

~ Alex Berenson, Author of Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence

As with all issues that affect public health, the question of legal cannabis should be decided by science and medicinenot personal opinion, not anecdotal stories, and definitely not by propaganda put out by the cannabis industry.

Study after study has found that the regular use of marijuana has profound and adverse effects on a person’s mental and physical health – impaired cognition, worsened memory, reduced emotional regulation, and a greater possibility of emotional disorders.

Chronic marijuana use has shown in some studies that it can even shrink the user’s brain.

And that’s the thing that makes marijuana so dangerous – how it directly affects the user’s brain. The severity of the damage is dose, usage, and age-dependent. The younger the person, the longer their history of use, and the heavier that use is, the greater the potential for negative consequences.

For a better understanding of what “Every Brain Matters” really means, let us take a closer look at the scientifically established link between the use of marijuana, mental illness, and overall brain health.  


A dose of THC may cause intoxication and immediately alleviate or numb a person’s anxiety, but it may actually be making their anxiety worse. High doses of THC – the psychoactive compound that gets users high – are associated with increased symptoms of anxiety

Given how potent today’s average marijuana strains are, this is extremely relevant…yet often underreported. Edibles and vaping products create an even bigger problem and can lead to extreme bouts of anxiety. 


Likewise, many people self-medicate with marijuana to treat symptoms of depression. However, cannabis is classified as a depressant and is contraindicated to treat depression and may worsen symptoms. Marijuana can damage the brain’s pleasure center. In other words, people who use marijuana are more likely to think about, plan, and attempt suicide.

  • According to a meta-analysis of 67 studies, people with cannabis use disorder are three times more likely to have co-occurring Major Depression.
  • Unlike other depressants, it also inhibits GABA, an important neurotransmitter that helps regulate moods and emotions. A GABA deficiency is associated with poor mental health, including Major Depressive Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder

“We wanted to answer two questions: does cannabis use lead to increased occurrence of mania symptoms or manic episodes in individuals with pre-existing bipolar disorder?”

“But also, does cannabis use increase the risk of onset of mania symptoms in those without pre-existing bipolar disorder?”

~ Dr. Steven Marwaha, PhD, University of Warwick

A recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders verified a strong relationship between marijuana use and the development or worsening of the manic phase of Bipolar Disorder. Researchers with the Warwick Medical School reviewed scientific literature concerning the drug’s effects, focusing on nearly 2,400 people with a history of bipolar mania.

Dr. Marwaha, a Professor of Psychiatry and the study’s lead author, highlights several conclusions:

  • There is a “significant” link between the use of marijuana and the onset of a manic episode.
  • Notably, the use of the drug precedes, rather than follows, mania symptoms.
  • Among people with bipolar disorder (BPD), marijuana worsens manic symptoms.

Sir Tobin Murray, Professor of Psychiatric Research at King’s College in London, told The Times, ‘I think we’re now 100 per cent sure that cannabis is one of the causes of a schizophrenia-like psychosis.

According to international drug experts, the risk of mental illness due to marijuana use is serious enough to justify worldwide public health campaigns because marijuana users have a 40% increased risk of psychosis compared to non-users. 

Frequency of use and potency matters – people who smoke high-THC marijuana daily have a risk of a psychotic episode that is 5 times greater than that of non-users.  

Poor Memory

A 2013 study by researchers at Northwestern University found that teens who smoke pot daily experienced abnormal changes in brain structure, resulting in memory problems, poor academic performance, and impaired everyday functioning.

Similar studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Biomedical Research Institute of Hospital de Sant Pau concluded that heavy cannabis users have more abnormally shaped and less active hippocampi, the area of the brain that is responsible for the storage and retrieval of memories, than healthy individuals who have never done the drug.

Even worse, these problems linger long after the drug is discontinued.

In a 2015 study published in Molecular Psychiatry, marijuana users experienced distorted memories, even though they had abstained from use for a month prior to the study. The greater the history of marijuana use, the lower the level of activity within the hippocampus.

The authors of the European study had this to say:

“’The present results indicate that long-term heavy cannabis users are at an increased risk of experiencing memory errors even when abstinent and drug-free…This lingering diminished ability to tell true from false may have medical and legal implications.”

Young People Are at Elevated Risk

If we pair these findings with the fact that almost 2/3 of those with mental disorders have onset before age 25, it sounds reasonable to state that cannabis should be avoided in younger strata of the population.”

~  Dr. Marco Solmi, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa and Investigator at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Because the human brain continues to mature until the mid-20s, adolescents, teens, and young adults are especially vulnerable to marijuana’s negative effects.

Earlier this year, a Columbia University study found that teenagers who use marijuana are up to four times more likely to develop a psychiatric illness.

Research shows cannabis use is associated with early onset of mood disorder, psychosis, and anxiety disorders, so it can lead to the onset of severe mental illness,” says Dr. Cynthia Fontanella, PhD, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Ohio State University College of Medicine

The Bottom Line About Marijuana and the Brain

A meta-analysis of 35 studies found that people who use marijuana are 41% more likely to have a mental disorder than those who have never used the drug. This prevalence cannot be discounted out of hand.

All the scientific and medical evidence tells us that expanded legalization of marijuana is premature at best and detrimental to public health at worst. If we ignore that evidence and rush foolhardily ahead,  millions of Americans may pay the price.

This is exactly what happened with tobacco and opioid painkillers.

Dr. Nora  Volkow, Director Of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says, “We have a society that tends to just look at the immediate returns without consideration of the delayed consequences. But the delayed consequences can be gigantic.

“As you normalize marijuana and make it more accessible, you’re increasing the risk of young people to be exposed to marijuana and to consume it regularly. Those consequences are likely to be much more costly economically than the revenue you’re gaining.”

What Can You Do?

…policymakers need to provide the public with advice about this widely-used drug. We believe that there is now enough evidence to inform people that using cannabis could increase their risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life.”

~ Dr.Stanley Zammit, Department of Psychological Medicine, Cardiff University School of Medicine

Unfortunately, there are a lot of lawmakers who are influenced by the Big Cannabis industry, just as there were before the truth was exposed about the Big Tobacco and Big Pharma companies.

Every Brain Matters is the trusted educational resource for individuals and families wanting to stay safe from the harms associated with marijuana and an expanded drug culture. 

We flatly reject the false narrative that marijuana is a harmless expression of personal freedom. Based on the latest scientific evidence and personal stories, our position is that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug, and like all drugs of abuse, it destroys lives

Spread awareness by sharing this article everywhere with everyone you know. To stay informed and up-to-date, join our national movement and subscribe to our channel.

Finally, make your voice heard by contacting your local elected officials. Legislators are supposed to pass laws that protect citizens, not hurt them. If you want to help keep your state, city, neighborhood, and family safe, contact your elected officials and tell them that you do not want expanded access to marijuana in your state.

Contact information for local politicians can be found here. Write, call, and email all of them, from your local mayor all the way to the Governor and your Congresspeople in Washington, D.C.

If you found this information valuable, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Every Brain Matters, a registered nonprofit organization devoted to telling the truth about the mental, physical, and societal dangers of marijuana. 

One thought on "What Does “Every Brain Matters” Mean?"

  1. Aubrey
    Excellent presentation of the facts. I have continued to evaluate SAMHSA’s grantmaking guidelines and it allows allocations to non-governmental entities. Secondly, I believe we have a strong case for not allowing funds for prevention to go to States that actively market marijuana, like mine in California.

    I am going to pursue it further. If we can capture part or all of those funds for a valid prevention program, I think we can start the process of effecting a change in drug policy to protect our youth. The existing federal drug policy focused entirely on treatment is a joke.

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