The impact of marijuana on teens


As the rest of the country looks to Colorado and Washington to see how well marijuana legalization is going, scientists have continued to study its effects. This includes how marijuana affects teens, which, as they are finding, is a more worrisome issue than many people realize.

It is a fact that teens are still developing mentally and physically. While some may not have realized it, studies have begun to discover that smoking marijuana affects teens’ mental development, and not for the better. It is messing with adolescents’ mental reward systems, their moods, their ability to cope with different situations and more. The following includes major reasons why parents should definitely be wary about their teens using marijuana:

  • Even casual use causes abnormalities in the brain.
    • A study focused on the short term effects of young adults aged 18 to 25 who smoked recreationally only a couple times a week and found that those who engaged in this activity showed significant abnormalities in certain areas of their brains.
    • The abnormalities occurred specifically the accumbens and the amygdale, which are the pleasure center and memory processor of the brain, respectively. Unfortunately, researchers found that the accumbens was altered in both size and shape, while the amygdala showed significant differences in its shape in the brains of those who smoked weed.
  • It affects a teen’s developmental outcomes.
    • This study focused on how marijuana affects adolescents and teens under the age of 17, how often the subjects smoked and associated it with their motivation to graduate high school or attain a university degree. Cannabis dependence, later use of illicit drugs, depression, welfare dependence and suicide attempts were also taken into consideration.
    • Researchers found that marijuana negatively affected the developmental outcomes of the study’s participants. The teens who used cannabis before 17 years of age were more than 60 percent less likely to complete high school or earn a degree compared to teens who never smoked cannabis. Also, cannabis users were 18 times more likely to form a dependence on the substance. They were also eight times more likely to use illicit drugs and seven times more likely to attempt suicide.
  • It worsens attention span and memory.
    • This study was more focused on the negative effect frequent marijuana use had on the brains of teens and young adults. Researchers used brain imaging studies to look at the significant changes marijuana use caused among adolescent brain structure.
    • Negative effects of frequent marijuana use included cognitive decline, poor attention, poor memory and a decreased IQ. These results remained the same even after factoring in things like medical conditions, prenatal drug use and the like.
    • This study also pointed to other research findings that have proved marijuana use increases the risk of future problems with depression, anxiety and psychosis, which are exacerbated with higher levels of THC as well.

The more time that passes, the more researchers are discovering how marijuana affects the brain of smokers. This is a huge concern for adolescents and teens who are smoking marijuana. The more studies being done on this subject, the worse it is looking. All in all, parents would do well to encourage their teens to stay away from marijuana. Parents are also advised to seek help for those teens who are already smoking marijuana. While this substance may not be physically addictive, it has been found to be psychologically addictive. It is best to halt teenage marijuana use as early as possible in order to diminish the adverse effects it will have.

To learn more about marijuana use treatment for teenage boys, you can visit or call 866-520-0905.

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