The Effects of Cannabis on Teens and Adolescents

There are plenty of amazing things that can be done with cannabis, but just because it helps so many people, doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with risks.

Just like anything, but especially recreational drugs, how it affects one person can be completely different than how it affects someone else. The truth is that even though it is considered to be one of the most harmless drugs around, plenty of people dread the effects of cannabis, and stay away from it for that reason.

Personal preference aside, cannabis, or at least the THC in it, can have extremely negative effects on young, developing brains. For that reason, it is never recommended for those under the age of 25.

In 2009, the California Society of Addiction Medicine released a detailed 34-page study that evaluates and reports on the Impact of Marijuana on Children and Adolescents. In it, they came to the following conclusion:

“Research into how marijuana produces its effects led scientists to discover that the brain has a huge, delicately balanced cannabinoid system of its own. Oily resin found in the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant contains several chemicals called “cannabinoids” (e.g.,’THC, or delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol). THC closely resembles the natural chemistry in our brain, effectively mimicking some of the brain’s neurotransmitters.

Smoking marijuana produces its characteristic “high” by flooding our brain with molecules that cannot be distinguished from its own internally produced neurochemistry, throwing the brain far from its natural chemical balance.”

Scientific research shows that a person’s brain continues to develop into their early 20s, and as a result, exposure to cannabis before the age of 25 results has more negative effects on adolescents compared to the relatively harmless effect it has on adults with fully developed brains.

For example, MRIs have documented structural damage in youth that is attributed to regular THC intake including lower brain volumes, cortex thinning and damaged neural connectivity.

All of this is compounded by the fact that cannabis on average is three or four times more potent than it was in the 80s, making the risk of negative effects that much more intense.

The truth is that it simply isn’t worth the risk, and while the industry can abide by the legislation of their province, it’s up to any adult with access to cannabis to ensure they keep it far away from the impressionable and delicate minds of those who are simply not in a position to benefit from its effects.

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