With marijuana becoming a new standard, many are under the mistaken impression that it’s relatively harmless, or not as bad as doing harder drugs. While it’s true that teens and troubled youth can be doing harder drugs or worse damage to themselves, it doesn’t mean that marijuana is harmless. Not only have many teens gone into recovery and rehabilitation for marijuana abuse, but there are now reports that marijuana can be more damaging to the brain than alcoholism.
Protecting Teen Brains
As USA Today reports, there is a new study that was released the first week of October that says that marijuana can be more risky to a teen brain than alcohol. Even one of the lead researchers of this study was surprised to learn that marijuana could be potentially more harmful than drinking.
When people are in their teen years, their brains are still developing, and marijuana can cause what this report calls “greater short and long-term consequences” with four important areas of a teen’s brain. These areas are the ability to solve problems, long-term memory, short-term memory, and being able to stop the habitual behavior when you have to.
This research was done in Montreal, and close to 4,000 teen students were part of this survey, with the youngest teens being 13 years old. The research had these teens taking memory tests every year for four years.
As this report explains, there was “a particularly troubling finding” that “young cannabis users may cause long-term damage to a brain function associated with substance abuse.”
As the lead author of this study, Patricia Conrod told Web MD, “[Teen] brains are still developing, but cannabis is interfering with that. They should delay their use of cannabis as long as they can.”
Teen Attitudes Towards Marijuana
According to a report in the Washington Post, a recent poll claimed that 60% of high school seniors think it’s safe to take marijuana, and there may be more teens ingesting marijuana these days than smoking tobacco and drinking. “How have our kids gotten the idea that pot is no big deal?” this story asks.
One reason why some teens don’t feel that marijuana is harmful is that many of their parents smoked marijuana themselves when they were younger. Nothing terrible happened to them, so why can’t they do it? While their parents may be okay after leaving their pot smoking days behind, a big problem today is marijuana is more potent than ever. TCH content in marijuana used to be 3 to 4%, and these days it’s as high as 13%.
A lot of teens are also unaware that you can overdose on marijuana. It’s not fatal, but it can cause severe panic attacks, and can even put you in the hospital.
There is also concern about the current trend of vaping, and teens ingesting cannabis through gummy bears and cookie edibles that look outwardly harmless. And indeed, just because you’re not smoking it, a lot of teens think swallowing it through other means won’t be as harmful, which is not true.
As marijuana becomes legal, many parents will have to rethink their attitudes towards it and realize it’s not as harmless as it seems, especially to the development of a young teenager’s brain.