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Teens' brains can be harmed by regular marijuana use

Getting high on marijuana

There has been a debate raging for decades about whether or not marijuana is safe for the brains of teens. The recent trend towards legalization of marijuana across the United States makes it appear as if marijuana is perfectly safe. However, recent research has shown that regular use of marijuana is bad for the brains of teens reported Science Daily on Aug. 9, 2014.

According to psychologists the frequent use of marijuana can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults. This negative effect can include cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and lower IQ. One expert has said it should be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which is considered once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in young people.

The bottom line is the regular use of marijuana is bad for the brains of teens and young adults reports the American Psychological Association. Psychologists raised this concern while discussing the public health implications of marijuana legalization at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention. They highlighted that regular marijuana use may be associated with cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and lower IQ.

Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, says
marijuana use is increasing. A study in 2012 showed that 6.5 percent of high school seniors reported smoking marijuana daily. Furthermore, 31 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reported they used marijuana in the last month. According to Lisdahl people who have become addicted to marijuana may lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood. Lisdahl also points out that brain imaging studies of regular marijuana users have shown significant changes in their brain structure.

The significant changes in brain structure of marijuana users has been seen particularly among adolescents. Among 16 to 19 year olds abnormalities in the brain’s gray matter, which is imporant for intelligence, have been found among those who increased their marijuana use in the past year.

Lisdahl thinks when considering legalization policymakers should address ways to prevent easy access to marijuana and provide more treatment funding for adolescent and young adult users. It has also been recommended that legislators consider regulating levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the major psychoactive chemical in marijuana, in order to lower possible.neurocognitive effects. Caution in dealing with marijuana is clearly suggested.

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