Parents have been ordering cannabis delivery and cautioning their teenagers about it for at least a century, warning of its dangers. To no avail. Kids have been ignoring them just as long, now smoking weed at every opportunity, legal or not. Exaggerating the risk of addiction, brain damage, psychosis, has made no impact at all. Teens will do what teens do. How bad is weed really for their brains?
Effect of Cannabis on Adult Brains
It is fact that marijuana is psychoactive. It makes you “high,” which impairs memory, attention, and disrupts learning. Today, some of the most potent strains can make you delusional, paranoid, even physically sick, but these are temporary effects, as anyone who ever orders cannabis delivery soon figures out. Whether it harms the brain over the long term, causing lasting damage remains unclear.
Numerous adult studies find nonusers performing better than chronic users on motor, verbal, memory, and attention tests, but this could be due to traces of cannabis in the body, or from withdrawal while abstaining for these studies. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a review of 13 studies showed cognitive performance equal among nonusers and those abstaining for a full month.
Effect of Marijuana on Adolescent Brains
However, when it comes to teenage tokers, scientists are not as sanguine. During adolescence, the brain is still developing, maturing in different ways to improve its performance, heighten its efficiency, and strengthen its executive abilities, such as maturation of emotional control. A number of research pathways suggest that weed could disrupt these processes. To what extent is still the question?
Recent study proves that endocannabinoids, specifically those manufactured by the body’s own nerve cells, are what wires the brain, both before birth and during adolescent. They play a vital role in regulating movement, memory, emotion, sleep, and even appetite, throughout life. According to the American Psychological Association, these endocannabinoid levels change during adolescence.
What the Studies Say
Because of these changes in concentration, neurologists worry about the long-term effects of dosing the brain so casually with cannabis. Brain imaging reinforces these questions. Several small studies show notable brain differences in habitual tokers, including inefficient cognitive function, changed brain-hemisphere connection, and even small hippocampi and amygdala, essential for emotion and memory.
Other evidence comes from animal studies. Rodents administered tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound in weed that makes users “high,” show signs of persistent difficulty with cognitive ability when exposed during puberty, yet not when exposed as adults. Despite this, no evidence exists concluding any permanent damage.
Rat studies use significantly higher doses of THC than even the most dedicated pothead would ever consume, and rats are teenagers for only a few weeks, not years like us. Causality is unclear too, samples are small and these are only brain-imaging studies. Factors such as early neglect, abuse, and poverty also affect brain development, and correlate with more serious substance abuse too.
To unravel the mystery conclusively, researchers are studying kids from early childhood and into adulthood. One study, still underway, is analyzing the question of adolescent cognitive development in 10,000 children over a decade-long period, factoring data from psychological tests, genetic tests, brain scans, surveys, and even academic records. It will give much needed answers over the long-term.
In small doses, consumed responsibly, cannabis delivery can have beneficial effects on brain development, specifically cannabidiol, or CBD, and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids. You can buy marijuana online, so if studies prove weed safe for teens, the “high” can still harm present learning, depriving the brain of essential social and intellectual stimulation for healthy growth into adulthood.
This adolescent period of development is so very important. Being sober for it is wise. This time is when the brain starts maximizing the ability to navigate complex circumstances, physically building brainpower. Heavy consumption, as in daily, during teenage years typically has a detrimental effect, as heavy tokers are often unhappier than nonusers are and achieve less in their lives. Moderation is key.