Yale creates center to study impact of marijuana on brain and mental health

NEW HAVEN — The newly created Center for the Science of Cannabis and Cannabinoids at Yale University aims to study the impact of marijuana on the brain and mental health, especially with the two different ends of the spectrum of human life.

The Doctor. Deepak D’Souza, a professor of psychiatrist at Yale and a staff psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, said the time was right to create the center because more people would use cannabis because of commercialization.

“Therefore, it would be very important for us to understand the consequences, the impact of these changes on our society,” said D’Souza, director of the center. “One of the areas we are specifically interested in is the impact of cannabis on the brain and the impact of cannabis on mental health.”
He said there isn’t a center that studies cannabis and cannabinoids on the East Coast, so that would put the university at the forefront. In addition, he hopes the center will bring together scientists from both inside and outside Yale to increase the amount and sophistication of information.
“We do this to generate high-quality information and science that can help individuals, families, municipalities, the state and the country to make decisions relevant to public health,” said D’Souza.
What is the difference between cannabis and cannabinoids? D’Souza said that cannabinoids are chemicals found in cannabis that create psychoactive effects.
Because existing studies on cannabis tend to focus on adults in their 20s and 30s, D’Souza said it’s important to find out its impact on older and younger people.
For example, he said older adults may be more vulnerable to the psychoactive and cardiovascular effects of cannabis. As a result, their ability to drive “may be impaired to a greater degree than young people,” he said.
Another end of the life spectrum, D’Souza said it’s also important to study how cannabis affects the developing brain. He said there has been an increase in cannabis use among pregnant people.

“By using cannabis during pregnancy, they are exposing the developing brain to cannabis, and we need to understand what happens to children born to mothers who may have used cannabis during pregnancy,” he said.
While there are researchers at Yale who are already working independently on cannabis, D’Souza said the center will bring them together to collaborate “by looking at the same question from perhaps different angles.”
The center will also try to recruit people outside of Yale for certain skill sets or unique interests, according to D’Souza.
The director of the center said that the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry has allocated some funds to allow pilot data collection to start some studies so that they can be used in future grant applications to the National Institute of Health.

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Yale creates center to study impact of marijuana on brain and mental health

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