According to scientists at the University of Montreal, adolescents who begin using marijuana regularly may suffer lasting repercussions in their thinking ability. The study followed over 3,800 adolescents from 31 Montreal-area schools over four years. The teens, who started participating in the study when they were 13, agreed to provide annual reports of how frequently they used marijuana and alcohol. They also took computer-based cognitive tests that measured recall memory, perceptual reasoning, inhibition and short-term memory. The study concluded that marijuana had a more damaging effect on teenagers’ long-term cognitive abilities than alcohol. Even after students reported stopping marijuana, their cognition did not improve.
It’s not the first research to find that cannabis use may be harmful to teen brains. In a study published in June, University of Pennsylvania scientists analyzed 69 studies involving younger cannabis users. They discovered that young people who used marijuana frequently were more likely to have slightly lower scores on tests of memory, learning new information, and higher-level thinking involving problem solving and processing information compared to non-users. Scientists say more research is needed to determine how and why the brain is affected by early marijuana use. But the longer-term social implications of marijuana use in teens are more well known. According to data provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, about 5.9 percent of 12th graders reported daily use of marijuana in 2017, up from 5.1 percent in 2007.
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