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Regular Marijuana Use is Bad for Young Brains

Marijuana

Image credit: Prensa 420.

The use of Marijuana is increasingly seen among young people now and it is widely accepted that it could severely harm the brains of those regular users.

According to Krista Lisdahl from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, to a regular cannabis user, who would take it once a week, it would be much unsafe, especially for youth in terms of addiction and neurocognitive damage, because the stage of adolescence is regarded as a sensitive period for neurodevelopment.

The negative impacts caused by the frequent use are attributed to cognitive decline, decreased IQ, poor attention and memory, which have been released by the scientists illustrating on the potential public health effects of marijuana legalization at the annual American Psychological Association convention, recently held in Washington, D.C.

Based on the study completed in 2012, 6.5 percent of high school seniors were reported to smoke marijuana on a daily basis, but this figure was only 2.4 percent twenty years ago. And now about a third of young adults aged between eighteen and twenty-five are reported to use marijuana at least once a month.

It is found by a recent study targeting on 1,037 participants, who have been monitored in the period from their birth to the age of thirty-eight, that marijuana addicts could lose six IQ points on average at their adulthood. In addition, brain imaging studies have also shown that obvious changes in the brain structure occurred on regular users, especially for adolescents. As for teenagers aged between sixteen and nineteen with increased use of marijuana in the past year, abnormalities have been found in the brain’s gray matter, which is closely linked with intelligence.

It is strongly suggested by scientists that legislators should regulate levels of the major psychoactive chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so as to decrease the neurocognitive effects. The frequency of marijuana use and its potency could moderate the relationship between marijuana and mental illness, because some legalized types of marijuana contained more THC than other strains.

As Bettina Friese of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation said, if the medical use of marijuana was openly legalized, it should put bad impact on adolescents’ perception of the risks.

It was also discovered from a 2013 study involved in 17,482 teenagers in Montana that percentage of marijuana user among teenagers was higher in counties in which more people voted for legalization in 2004. Friese added, people there tended to regard it as unharmful substance, so teenagers were much influenced by such community norms.

Source: American Psychological Association

Image: Prensa 420 via Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

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