Warning!  If you are a pothead basketball player or coach and have no intention of looking at the facts on what pot is doing to you and your brain;  STOP READING! 

For the rest of you, the data that is coming out is getting more and more scary.  To the politicians who are pushing legalized pot and the physicians, especially the neurologists and pulmonologists who are not strongly fighting legalization, shame on you.

Casual marijuana use linked with brain abnormalities, study finds

REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Casual marijuana use may come with some not-so-casual side effects.

For the first time, researchers at Northwestern University have analyzed the relationship between casual use of marijuana and brain changes – and found that young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.


Dr. Hans Breiter, co-senior study author, said he was inspired to look at the effects of casual marijuana use after previous work in his lab found that heavy cannabis use caused similar brain abnormalities to those seen in patients with schizophrenia.

"The interaction of marijuana with brain development could be a significant problem."

- Dr. Hans Breiter, co-senior study author

“There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do,” Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com.  “When you make judgments or decisions, plan things, do mathematics – anything you do always involves working memory.  It’s one of the core fundamental aspects of our brains that we use every day.  So given those findings, we decided we need to look at casual, recreational use.”

For their most recent study, Breiter and his team analyzed a very small sample of patients between the ages of 18 and 25: 20 marijuana users and 20 well-matched control subjects.  The marijuana users had a wide range of usage routines, with some using the drug just once or twice a week and others using it every single day.

Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers analyzed the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation.  They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape.

According to Breiter, all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

“For the NAC, all three measures were abnormal, and they were abnormal in a dose-dependent way, meaning the changes were greater with the amount of marijuana used,” Breiter said.  “The amygdala had abnormalities for shape and density, and only volume correlated with use.  But if you looked at all three types of measures, it showed the relationships between them were quite abnormal in the marijuana users, compared to the normal controls.”

Because these brain regions are central for motivation, the findings from Northwestern help support the well-known theory that marijuana use leads to a condition called amotivation. Also called amotivational syndrome, this psychological condition causes people to become less oriented towards their goals and purposes in life, as well as seem less focused in general.

Given these eye-opening results,  Breiter said that more research is needed to look into marijuana’s effects on the brain – even in those who use the drug only once or twice a month.

“We need to see what happens longitudinally,” Breiter said. “What happens as you follow people over time?  What happens if they stop using – do these bad effects continue? What happens if you can intervene early?…My worry is we haven’t studied this compound and here we are looking to change legislation on it.”

Although Breiter’s team members did not examine the patients’ cognitive symptoms, they do believe that the brain abnormalities seen in their study could lead to substantial effects on brain development and behavior, especially given the young ages of the participants.  Breiter also acknowledged the problems of analyzing a very small study sample – but said that their findings should still serve as a wake-up call to others.

“This study is just a beginning pilot study, but at the same time, the results that came out are the same as a canary in a coal mine,” Breiter said.  “…The interaction of marijuana with brain development could be a significant problem.”


#12 Mike Scott

Position: Point Guard
Height: 6’0"
Weight: 180
Year: Junior
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
Other College: Antelope Valley CC
Experience: Transfer

AVC’s Mike Scott who received a scholarship to D-1 University of Idaho last year, received the  George Greene Award for the most unselfish player. Scott began the season as Idaho’s back-up point guard but started 15 of Idaho’s final 16 games andmike averaged 11.1 points, 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game in that time, with a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

After Mike took over the point for Idaho, he led them to the finals in the WAC tournament, one game away from the NCAA tournament.  Under his leadership, for the first time since 1993, the Idaho men’s basketball team played for a conference tournament championship.

Looking back on my blog quotes about Mike last year after he signed with the U of Idaho, I said, “I believe that the U of Idaho may have picked up the best overall guard in Cal JUCO this year.”  Of the top JUCO guards that received D-1 scholarships, Mike took his team further this year and made the biggest impact of any D-1 guard from California.  Congratulations Mike. 

The NCAA has come out with a number of proposed rule changes that would go into effect 1 August 2014.  Keep in mind these rules, if approved, are for D-1 university programs.  I must admit I am a bit confused how these actually would affect Cal JUCO’s.  At times I hear that Cal JUCO’s must follow only the CCCAA rules and regulations and at other times must also follow the NCAA rules as well.  Maybe one of our knowledgeable readers could update us on this issue.

Here are the proposed rule changes;

    • Drop limitation on food allowances for student athletes.  Makes sense.  I have seen hungry JUCO basketball players who literally didn’t have enough money to buy food.  On the other hand, the rules must be set up in a way that food allowances are not being used to pay for “street drugs.”  See change #4. 
    • Require strength and conditioning coaches to be certified from a nationally accredited certification body.  Again makes sense.  What if there is no specific strength and conditioning coach?  Most JUCO’s are lucky to have a full time head coach.
    • Require a school staff member certified in CPR, first aid and arterial external defibrillation to be present at all physical, countable athletic activities.  Makes sense but what the heck is a countable athletic activity?  I have seen players pass out in workouts/basketball classes…usually in the summer…and it took the paramedics 15+ minutes to arrive on site.
    • Reduce the penalty for a first positive test for street drugs during championships.  Horrible decision.  With all of the current data coming out saying even minor use of marijuana causes possible brain damage and decreases in athletic capabilities, bad bad decision.  Political correctness and coaches support put this through.  I doubt whether half of the JUCO’s even test for drug use.  What would the coaches do if they found it? 
    • Require football players to rest for at least three hours between practices during the preseason. Film review and team meetings will be allowed during this period.  Affects only the football program but makes sense to me. 

These changes are worth watching closely and clarification is needed whether they will apply to the Cal JUCO’s.  Some of these changes are going to cost some big bucks.

The Antelope Valley is full of wild flowers this year.  Those two late rain storms turned the Valley green and the wild flower seeds did the rest.   Very different from last spring where the Valley stayed brown and the wild flowers did not show. 

So what does that have to do with JUCO basketball you say?   The AVC basketball spring class has a very different feel to it in comparison to last year.  Instead of three returning sophomores, there are nine this year.  All nine returnees had significant playing time as freshmen in the past 27-5 conference championship season. 

There is a sharpness in the air.  No nonsense. Self inflicted intensity.  The player leadership on the team is clear and unflinching. The team members are close…very close.  That closeness doesn’t condone slackness from anyone as the pointed verbal exchanges among players in workouts show.   

Yesterday, things start out with an hour on suicide hill under the uncompromising eyes of assistant coach Donte Bell.  With the temperature at a balmy 84, the sweat streaked players stayed hydrated in spite of the intensity of the workout. 

Then back to the gym where on the way someone from the football team yells at sophomore Daviyon Draper, “Decided where your going yet Drape?”  “Not yet”,  Drape says, “Getting close.”

The 20 student athletes must be too tired after suicide hill to get it on in the gym right?  Nope.  Shooting drills, free throws, one on one stuff.  Then what they all have been waiting for…five on five on five.  Draper, Ali, Lawrence and the rest of the 12 really showing why they ended the season with 27-5 record.  They ooh and aah about some special moves from a couple of “new guys.”  How will they fit in with the nine “old pro’s who are coming back?  “How are your classes going?  ”You were invited to play at the Drew?”  “Starts next month?”  “Did you see that dunk?” 

The team is in the evaluation mode. They are waiting for the right guys to come along to fill the void of the three sophomores heading to university basketball.   Not only must they be talented, but they need to be serious in the classroom and accept team basketball and defensive intensity.  They will be joining something special. 

It was a joyful experience yesterday watching the best of the best high school senior players at the All-Star game called the “Battle of the 14.”  Over 30 players, from 18 high schools, played hard at Antelope Valley College to show their families, their coaches and college recruiters in the stands their basketball skills.  The HS coaches did an outstanding jobs in preparing their teams in the short time they had.  The venue at AVC was excellent, well organized and the big crowd enjoyed themselves. 

For nearly all of the players on the floor, it was their last interscholastic basketball game.  They will be relegated to playing park basketball, town teams or at the YMCA etc..  According to "Answers" only 3%(3-100) of high school basketball players make it to college level.   Keeping in mind that the 30 senior players at the tournament were the best of the best, more of these players should be expected to play college basketball. 

I estimate that of the 30 players on the floor, 5 players(17%) have the physical attributes to play college basketball.  Of those five;  one with D-1 potential, two with D-2 potential and two or three will play at the JUCO level. 

I can just hear family members of players, HS coaches and players themselves wailing that this could not be true.  Unfortunately, just watch.  Few will actually take that fork on the road to college basketball due to any number of barriers;

  1. Marijuana and other drugs
  2. Academics
  3. Lack of work ethic
  4. Lack of skills(over estimation of actual skills)
  5. Coachability
  6. All or some of the above

Best of luck to the student athletes that take that “fork in the road” to college basketball.  It is going to take a lot of work both in the gym and in the classroom.  To the other all-stars, you are entering the real world.  Its time to step up. 

Santa Clarita 119
Antelope Valley 111

Santa Clarita 52
Antelope Valley 50