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Early cannabis use causes brain abnormalities; regulation needed

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On December 16, the Daily Mail reported new findings that teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are at greater risk for memory problems and, thus, poor academic performance. These effects are not permanent but will last for a few years, scientists say.

The researchers conducted their study on individuals in their early twenties who had stopped smoking marijuana two years prior. When they conducted MRI scans of the individuals’ brains, scientists found the memory-related structures had shrunk and inwardly collapsed. The abnormalities are similar to those found in the brains of schizophrenics.

An observation they made was that the younger the individual began daily marijuana use, the more severe the brain abnormalities. Additionally, the study garnered further evidence that marijuana use is problematic for the mental health of teens predisposed to schizophrenia.

Though Stephen Harper has been open that he has no intention of decriminalizing marijuana – even going as far as considering ticketing citizens for possessing the substance – it would enable better regulation, and thus, be safer for Canadian youth.

The benefits of decriminalization are many. To begin with, decriminalization would mean that the government could set restrictions on who can and can’t purchase marijuana. In doing this, they could effectively reduce the number of youth engaging in the substance. It would also be a great opportunity for the government to develop programs aimed at youth and their parents to learn about marijuana and how to be responsible with it.

Moreover, the money gained from tax on marijuana sales could go to social programs, something Canada is severely lacking right now. It is also more in line with public attitudes.

As decriminalization spreads globally, the Canadian government needs to relook at their marijuana policies as they are quickly becoming more and more outdated. For Canadian youth, decriminalization is necessary so that regulation can be more effective and hopefully encourage them to wait to use marijuana.

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