Teenagers Who Smoke Cannabis Develop Abnormal Brain Structures

By Camille H, Parent Herald December 17, 11:45 am

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis have been found to have abnormal brain structures and poorer memory, according to a new study.

In fact, the researchers confirmed that the younger the users are, the more abnormally their brains are shaped. The abnormalities developed from smoking cannabis may last for at least a year even after they stopped using it. The researchers also confirmed that there are evidences that show this habit may cause mental health problems to teenagers that are predisposed to schizophrenia. They tested almost 100 teenagers and found that those who smoked it daily for about three years had abnormal changes in the brain structures related to remembering and processing information. They also performed poorly on memory tasks.

Lead author of the study, Matthew Smith, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said: "The study links the chronic use of marijuana to these concerning brain abnormalities that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it. With the movement to decriminalize marijuana, we need more research to understand its effects on the brain." Of the 15 marijuana users who suffered from schizophrenia in the study, 90 percent started using the drug heavily prior to developing the mental disorder.

"If someone has a family history of schizophrenia, they are increasing their risk of developing schizophrenia if they abuse marijuana. If you have schizophrenia and you frequently smoke marijuana, you may be at an increased risk for poor working memory, which predicts your everyday functioning. The study published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin is the first in the field to look at key brain regions along with the use of marijuana through MRI scanning.

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