1-Apr-15 12:00 PM  CST

Chronic Use of Marijuana in Teens May Lead to Brain Abnormalities

Pot, Weed, Mary Jane, Reefer, Blunt, Shunk Ashes, just a few aliases for Cannabis or marijuana. Although a Class I scheduled drug marijuana use among teens and young adults has been on a steady rise since 2007. Recent legalization at a state level in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. allowing the recreational use of marijuana has spurred not only a very lucrative consumer good, but also a new generation of users. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. Marijuana, which comes from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, is popular among teenagers and young adults for its mind-altering or psychoactive properties.

A study published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience suggest that chronic marijuana use among teenagers and young adults is responsible for issues with retaining memories as well as structural abnormalities of the brain later in life. 10 young adults who had a history of heavy marijuana use were compared to 44 young adults with no history of marijuana or drug use. The young adults were followed from the age of 16 or 17 for three years and at the end of the study, researchers found that the young adults that had a history of heavy marijuana use had noticeable cognitive impairment.

Given a series of stories and then told to remember as much as possible about the story approximately one-half hour later, the young adults with a history of heavy marijuana use did significantly worse than those who had no history of marijuana use. In addition, researchers found that those who had heavy marijuana use also had a hippocampus that was oddly shaped. The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for forming memories, organizing and storing information. While it is important to point out that this latest information has not been proven to be conclusive health professionals do warn that the loosing of regulations regarding the recreational use of marijuana may lead to much larger health issue later in life.

 

Resources:

 

National Institutes of Health, (2014), “DrugFacts: Marijuana” , http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana, retrieved, 14. March 2015

 

WebMD, (2015), “Teens heavy pot smoking tied to memory problems”, http://teens.webmd.com/news/20150312/teens-heavy-pot-smoking-tied-to-memory-problems?page=2, retrieved, 14. March 2015


For additional information on this article, please contact:
 
Kelley Simmons
 
Source: Sandy Andrews, CPhT, BLS  

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