I wrote a long time ago that cannabis sativa may not be good for your health, and today I see that the University of South Wales, Sydney has published a research paper titled Heavy teenage cannabis use linked with anxiety disorders in late 20s. The article cites a noted relationship between teenage weed use and late-20s anxiety mental disorders:
Teenagers who smoke cannabis weekly or more are twice as likely as non-users to have an anxiety disorder in their late 20s, even if they stop using, a study of 2000 Victorian teenagers has found. [...] [T]he really striking finding say the authors is the persistent association between frequent teenage cannabis use and adult anxiety disorders up to a decade after cannabis use has ceased. The relationship between cannabis use and anxiety disorders was present even after the researchers took into account other possible explanations such as mental health problems in their teens or other drug use in their twenties.
The researchers note that causation has not yet been explained:
Professor Patton, lead investigator of the 2000 stories cohort, said that the findings could be explained by lasting changes to brain function caused by introducing cannabis at a time when the brain is developing rapidly. Equally it could be that the very factors which predispose people to use cannabis early also predispose them to common mental health problems.
The study itself notes a possible positive note:
There were no consistent associations between adolescent cannabis use and depression at age 29 years.
You can read the research paper (PDF) for yourself to get the dirty details.
I signed up for Mint.com, a personal finance manager, and I thought I’d post my reactions here. First, let’s walk through the process. You fill in your email address and passwords, and then almost immediately begin filling in sign-in information for the online banking service you use. The GUI is fast and intuitive:
Within minutes, Mint has pulled the most recent 132 transaction from four credit cards, a checking account, and paypal. They support hundreds of different accounts, from banking checking and savings, credit cards, macys and other store cards, as well as investment accounts. In the near future, they will support student loan accounts as well!
Yes, this is scary, but Mint claims they can keep you safe by not storing your banking login information themselves:
We ask for your online banking user name and passwords, but we do not see or store that information. That means no one at Mint, and no potential hackers of Mint.com, can access your banking credentials. Your online banking credentials are stored only with these institutions enabling Mint to automatically and securely update your transactions and saving you from updating, syncing or uploading financial information manually. All communication between Mint and its online financial service providers is encrypted using 128–bit SSL encryption, the financial industry standard for data protection.
The next step is to classify and review your transactions. Mint lets you put them in buckets–and naturally it will get a few wrong to start with–but you can set up rules to classify new transactions how you like. For example, I set one that sets any cheques with the amount of my rent to go into the rent bucket:
By doing this, you let them do some analysis on your spending or earning trends. Note, the trends feature appears to update daily, not in real time, so if you classify a bunch of transactions, it won’t update the trends page with your new categorization for some time. This is unfortunate, but probably necessary. This lets them make, say, a graph of your spending v.s. the average NY spender:
I guess I need to spend more money at Amazon and Best Buy to fit in these days. Lastly, there is their “ways to save” page, which is basically targeted affiliate ads with various banks. This is their revenue stream–getting you to sign up for new credit cards and open new accounts–so don’t trust anything it says:
The verdict? I love it, and I think it’s only going to get better. This is the new world, and services like Mint can make our lives infinitely easier! Please share your opinions about Mint.com, if you’ve ever experienced fraud after signing up, etc, below.
Update: There are some good reviews out there, too. PC Magazine says “Mint.com is a useful, intelligent, and free financial Web service that’s simple to set up and tracks your monetary life with little intervention on your part,” while Viewpoints has a single review which calls it “One of the best free money trackers on the Internet” and Girls Just Wanna Have Funds praises it for costing $50 less than MS Money.
As you know, Marijuana or Cannabis is illegal drug in the US with medical properties that have made the subject of much recent research. With over 69 million Americans over the age of 12 who have tried Marijuana, it is by far the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States.
Did you know that:
- Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, including most of the harmful substances found in tobacco smoke. Smoking one marijuana cigarette deposits about four times more tar into the lungs than a filtered tobacco cigarette. (Drug Enforcement Administration)
- Risk of a heart attack is five times higher than usual in the hour after smoking marijuana. (Harvard University, Marijuana & Heart Attacks, Washington Post, 3/3/2000)
- Reaction time for motor skills, such as driving, is reduced by 41% after smoking one joint and is reduced 63% after smoking two joints.
Still, there is substantial belief that Marijuana is harmless or that it is valuable as a therapeutic drug for cancer, AIDS, or depression. There is some evidence that a synthetic cannabinoid derived from THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) named Dronabinol, can help with Alzheimer in the elderly. The most common reason for a “legal prescription” of Marijuana (the so-called medical marijuana legal in California) is to relieve pain.
Reuters today reported on a story that will make you cringe, though. Heavy marijuana use shrinks brain talks about a study published in the American Medical Association’s journal Archives of General Psychiatry by two Australian researchers looking at men who had smoked at least five joints a day for 20 years. Brain scans indicated their hippocampus and amygdala were smaller compared to nonusers:
The hippocampus regulates memory and emotion, while the amygdala plays a critical role in fear and aggression.
“These findings challenge the widespread perception of cannabis as having limited or no harmful effects on (the) brain and behavior,” said Murat Yucel of ORYGEN Research Centre and the University of Melbourne, who led the study. “Like with most things, some people will experience greater problems associated with cannabis use than others,” Yucel said in an e-mail. “Our findings suggest that everyone is vulnerable to potential changes in the brain, some memory problems and psychiatric symptoms if they use heavily enough and for long enough.”
Among the 15 heavy marijuana users in the study, the hippocampus volume was 12 percent less and the amygdala volume was 7 percent less than in 16 men who were not marijuana users, the researchers said.
Criticism of the study centers around the fact that these men are extremely heavy users; had they been smokers or alcoholics, the effects would certainly have been more pronounced. Note that I am not a medical doctor, and this cannot constitute medical advice, but my opinion on Marijuana would be to generally avoid it. It’s clear that it’s harmless in moderation and small amounts, but over time it seems as if it can have profound effects, dumbing down your brain and numbing your nervous system. What do you think? Is there a cost, and is it worth it?