Marijuana is thought to be a harmless drug by the public, but research shows that it can have a damaging effect on developing brains and may lead to a life long addiction. In a new study scientists have given reasons why marijuana can be harmful for teenagers.
Whether states should legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use is a hot topic across the country. As the debates continue a potentially dangerous environment is being created where more preteens, teens and young adult are beginning to use the substance with the feeling that it is safe. In fact, 36 percent of all seniors in high school and 7 percent of eighth-graders report using the drug in the past month, suggests a recent study.
Professor Garry Sigman from Loyola University said that teens see marijuana as a safe substance, but its effects on the adolescent brain could be dangerous, especially if there is heavy use. As the stigma of marijuana use becomes less the number of teens using the drug has increased.
Sigman reports that marijuana was an addictive substance and adolescents were 2-4 times more likely to become dependent on the drug within two years after first use compared with adult users.
Research shows that heavy use can lead to neurotoxicity and alternations in brain development leading to:
Impairment in thinking
Poor educational outcomes and perhaps a lower IQ
Increased likelihood of dropping out of school
Symptoms of chronic bronchitis
Increased risk of psychosis disorders in those who are predisposed.
Parents should inform themselves about the scientific facts relating to marijuana and the developing brain and be able to discuss the topic calmly and rationally with their kids. They need to explain that the dose of the drug in a 'joint' was 3 to 4 times higher than in years past, and that if the parents occasionally used during their lives, they should now know that the risk was present if used before adulthood, Sigman said.