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Marijuana is one of the most used drugs in the United States, primarily by adolescents who are curious and have heard about the drug’s effects. Some states are legalizing marijuana and other states have already legalized marijuana for medical usage, however, there are still concerns about the effects of marijuana on the developing brain. Studies who that the developing brain of the adolescent is highly vulnerable to damage from smoking marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana, even with age restrictions, provides a greater ease of access to marijuana for adolescents. If legalized, parents, brothers, relatives, and older friends can buy marijuana for adolescents who are not of age. This already happens with alcohol consumption. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C. allow for the recreational use of marijuana for individuals aged 21 and up, but this does not mean that these individuals are not proving the marijuana they buy to people underage.

The highest statistic for marijuana use lies between ages 18-25 and this report includes 11 million individuals who have smoked pot. A fair amount of individuals who smoke pot are under 21, when the brain is still sensitive in its development. Psychology states that the brain is actually still developing after 21 and up until age 25, when the brain is fully matured. Marijuana affects the brain by passing the substance, THC from the lung into the bloodstream where the substance is then carried to the brain and other organs.

Effects of marijuana are felt after about 30 minutes and these effects include altered sensations, like seeing bright colors, altered sense of time, mood swings, difficulty problem solving, and impaired memory. These short-term effects can vary depending on how much marijuana the individual puts into their body and can elevate to hallucinations, delusions, and temporary psychosis. Long-term effects, however, do not wear off and may continue for years or for life.

These long-term effects result from smoking marijuana when the brain is still developing during adolescence. Some of the effects have been shown to decrease IQ points by 8, decreased verbal knowledge, and decreased general knowledge. Other studies have linked long-term marijuana use for over a year to hallucinations, paranoia, and worsening symptoms for individuals with mental illnesses like schizophrenia. These ill effects of marijuana can build up and cause higher dropout rates in school, increased unemployment, and lower life satisfaction.

The reason IQ and other logical functions of the brain are affected by marijuana at early ages is because the last part of the brain to fully develop is the frontal cortex, which is responsible for planning, judgment, decision-making, and personality. The endocannabinoid system is also affected at early ages and this part of the brain is for cognition, neurodevelopment, stress responses, and emotional control. Pot smoking in the early teens may explain why some pot smokers develop depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems later on.

If you or someone you know has more questions about marijuana risks, consider talking to a professional drug treatment center. Asana Recovery is an alcohol and drug addiction treatment center that offers therapies, detox, and rehabilitation services. They have a professional staff that can answer any and all questions. Call 949-438-4504 to learn more about their treatment services.