While many are arguing the legality of marijuana one important part left out of this conversation would be how these choices will affect our teens. The effects of marijuana on an adult mind and a teenage mind differ drastically. As our youth are still developing it is important to know and inform our teens how marijuana will affect them.
Marijuana and the teenage brain
Like any drug marijuana can have serious effects on the developing mind. One of the most crucial ingredients found in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC. When smoked this ingredient attaches itself to receptors in the brain called cannabinoid receptors. These cells or neurons are a part of a network within the brain that communicates normal brain functions and brain development.
Most of these receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, coordinated movement and even time perception. These are important daily brain functions that are necessary in a teens’ growth. Long term or regular marijuana use beginning in the teenage years can seriously impair brain development.
How Marijuana affects the brain
Coordination: THC impairs both the cerebellum and basal ganglia parts of our brain. These areas control balance, coordination and movement control and with the influence of THC cause a delay in communication with the brain and the rest of the body.
Judgment: Marijuana also affects the frontal cortex which controls the brain’s ability to make decisions. While under the influence teens may engage in what they normally acknowledge as risky behavior, thinking this is a normal and perfectly acceptable thing to do.
Learning and memory: Allowing THC to disrupt normal brain function has been shown to cause a decrease in IQ. THC also affects the hippocampus which plays a vital role in concentration, thinking and memory.
Other effects of marijuana
Extensive marijuana use not only affects the brains patterns it also has been linked with mental disorders. Some teens display depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. This was extremely prevalent in cases of teens that have a family history of schizophrenia. Extensive marijuana use also lead to teens developing schizophrenia or other types of psychosis.
Source: NIDA for Teens