Marijuana and the Developing Brain


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Despite the fact that marijuana is legalized in many states, marijuana still poses many health risks including the risk for addiction. The surgeon general has put out a warning related to marijuana use – specifically related to the risks of marijuana use during adolescence. Facts included in the warning are:

  • The human brain continues to develop to the mid 20’s and is vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances
  • Marijuana changes areas of the brain involved in memory, decision-making, and motivation
  • Marijuana impairs learning and has been linked to declines in IQ and school performance
  • Marijuana use is linked to increased rates of school absence and drop-out
  • Marijuana use is linked to increase in suicide attempts
  • Teens ages 12-17 who use marijuana show a 130% greater likelihood of misusing opioids

The CDC also has information and warnings related to the use of marijuana:

  • Research shows that marijuana use can have permanent effects on the developing brain when use begins in adolescence, especially with regular or heavy use.
  • Frequent or long-term marijuana use is linked to school dropout and lower educational achievement
  • The amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana (i.e., marijuana potency) has increased over the past few decades. The higher the THC content, the stronger the effects on the brain. In addition, newly popular methods of using marijuana (e.g., dabbing, edibles) may deliver very high levels of THC to the user.
  • Eating foods or drinking beverages that contain marijuana have some different risks than smoking marijuana, including a greater risk of poisoning.
  • Long-term or frequent marijuana use has been linked to increased risk of psychosis or schizophrenia in some users.

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