Here’s What Science Says on the Teen and Pot Connection

010116_Here's What Science Says on the Teen and Pot Connection 

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One of the top concerns regarding the legalization of marijuana in Canada is the easier access it would give the younger population to the drug. Parents have the right to worry, however, since a lot of scientific studies have justified that teenagers and pot certainly don’t jive. Here are some of the studies compiled by The Globe and the Mail showing the effects of weed to adolescent brains:

  1. Brain activity increases among teenage pot smokers.

According to a study done by the University of Ottawa, teens who smoked pot at least once a week for three years had increased brain activity while performing cognitive tasks. That means their brains had to work harder than the average person in some cognitive tasks, like working memory and sustained attention.

  1. Smoking marijuana changes some brain structures.

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2014 found out that brain regions affecting emotion and reward processing underwent some structural changes among teens who smoked weed at least once a week.

  1. Long-term marijuana use can lower IQ.

Another study published in New Zealand in 2012 that followed teenage marijuana users from birth into their 40s showed that long-term use of weed is linked to lower IQs, especially among teens who continued to smoke pot well into adulthood.

  1. Marijuana smokers are less likely to finish school.

A 2014 study published in lancet Medical Journal showed that teens who smoked pot daily were 60 percent less likely to finish high school or get a university degree compared to their non-smoking peers. They were also more likely to use illicit drugs and attempt suicide later on in life.

  1. Pot might induce schizophrenia.

A study published in the JAMA Psychiatry Journal showed that boys with genetic predisposition to schizophrenia developed a thinner cerebral cortex in the brain, which meant that marijuana somehow interfered with natural brain development.

But while the sheer amount of studies linking marijuana to detrimental effects among adolescents is pretty compelling, scientists claim that the evidence is not yet conclusive. According to them, these studies only reveal a correlation between weed and certain deficits, but they did not reveal whether pot directly caused these brain changes. Variables like genetics, other illegal drug use, and alcohol consumption further confound the findings.

Surveys also show that marijuana legalization does not necessarily translate to higher weed use among adolescents. Data from the United Nations show that only 17 percent of Dutch teens smoked pot in the last year—despite the legality of the drug in the Netherlands—compared to 28 percent of teens in Canada, where marijuana is still considered illegal. In fact, Canada has the highest rate of teenage cannabis use in the developed world.

So for parents still concerned about the effect of marijuana legalization on their adolescents, the best thing that they can do is to educate their kids. Regardless of whether the evidence is conclusive or not, science clearly shows that smoking pot during this critical stage of their life is not a good idea.

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