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The Daily Buzz: November 11, 2014

Regular marijuana users have "shrunken brains" claims study; doctors cash in on unnecessary drug tests for seniors; and Brown University student tests positive for date-rape drug after campus frat party.

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Study Claims Regular Marijuana Smokers Have Shrunken Brains
Oh good, another confusing and inconclusive study of marijuana’s long-term health effects! The latest study finds that regular pot smokers had, on average, less gray matter in the orbital frontal cortex, a region that is crucial in helping the brain monitor rewards, motivation, decision-making and addictive behaviors. But there was also evidence that the brain compensates for this loss of volume by increasing connectivity of the brain tissue.

Doctors Cash in on Drug Testing Seniors
In the war against painkiller misuse, doctors are now encouraged to drug test their patients before prescribing them pain pills. But many doctors are themselves misusing the system because drug testing is so lucrative. There has been a huge rise in testing senior citizens for drugs like heroin, cocaine and “angel dust”—despite very few seniors using these drugs—since the expensive tests are paid for by Medicare and make the docs a lot of money.

Drug Cartels Use Argentina as Transit Hub
Counter-narcotics efforts in the northern parts of South America are reportedly pushing drug trafficking operations farther south. Because of its central location, Argentina is increasingly being used as a trade route for cartels trafficking cocaine and other drugs from Bolivia and Peru to Europe and the US.

Brown University Student Tests Positive for Date-Rape Drug at Frat Party
One of two students who reported “memory loss” after drinking punch at a Brown University frat party in October has tested positive for the date-rape drug GHB. Brown representatives sent out a campus-wide email announcing the test results this weekend and warning students to be on high alert. The university is one of 85 American schools under investigation for its handling of sexual assault cases.

UK Mother Takes a Stand for Drug Legalization After Daughter’s Death
Anne-Marie Cockburn, whose daughter Martha died at 15 after taking ecstasy, is offering up her daughter’s story as evidence that drug laws are failing. “What has become clear to me since Martha’s death is that prohibition does not work,” she writes in an op-ed. “It’s outdated and idealistic, and does not prevent people taking drugs. All it does is push them under the table, making everything unquantifiable and increasing the dangers.”