Why teenagers should not smoke a lot of pot


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
The teen age brain is more fragile than we knew. Studies have linked increased rates of schizophrenia to marijuana use during adolescence (but not during adulthood).

Brain abnormalities and poor long-term memory among young cannabis users. Now a study suggests that daily marijuana use as a teen does, as one might suspect, impact one's brain. The abnormalities appear to last for a couple of years after one has stopped smoking.


Smoking marijuana daily for 3 years as a teen is linked with having an abnormally shaped hippocampus and long-term memory problems, according to the results of a new study by researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, IL.

The researchers think the hippocampus may be more susceptible to alteration the longer the use of marijuana occurs.

The hippocampus region of the brain is known to be important for regulating emotions and long-term memory. Previous research, such as a 2008 study conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne, Australia, found an association between structural abnormalities in the hippocampus and long-term, heavy cannabis use.

The Australian researchers found that the hippocampus and amygdala were smaller in cannabis users than in non-users. The cannabis users also demonstrated more "sub-threshold symptoms" of psychotic disorders than the control group who did not use cannabis.

The Northwestern study, published in the journal Hippocampus, used "advanced brain mapping tools" to examine in closer detail the subtle changes in brain regions found in marijuana users.

Previously, the Northwestern team had demonstrated poor short-term and working memory performance in marijuana users, along with abnormalities in the shapes of other brain regions, including the striatum, globus pallidus and thalamus.

"Both our recent studies link the chronic use of marijuana during adolescence to these differences in the shape of brain regions that are critical to memory and that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it," says lead study author Matthew Smith, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.

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