America is beginning to understand the benefits of prescription cannabis. While it has widely been considered as a gateway drug and a favorite pastime of hippies and lazy people, medical research has developed marijuana for health benefits for those who are suffering from severe illness.
However, while this may be a good solution for addressing health issues such as cancer and seizures, marijuana should not be used by teens and young adults. Below, we discuss some of the ways in which marijuana has a long-term negative impact on the body.
Marijuana Slows Brain Development
Adolescence is the second most significant period of brain development, second only to development in the womb. The stage from childhood to adulthood has critical growth processes, and these can be impaired by marijuana use.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the ingredient in marijuana that creates the feeling of a “high,” binds with the brain’s cannabinoid (CB1) receptors, which blocks their normal function. The processes of learning and memory are thereby blocked and slowed, or stopped altogether.
Because teenagers have more CB1 receptors than adults do, teens can get higher more quickly and for a longer period.
Because of these factors, exposure to marijuana during a person’s teenage years can significantly affect brain maturation. It can also create neurological issues that could affect the function and behavior of their brain in adulthood.
Teens Are More Likely to Become Addicted
While some people don’t believe marijuana is addictive, it can be very habit-forming. Not only that, but continued use can lead to some health problems and problematic behaviors among users.
Teens learn more quickly than adults do, so by the same token their brains can “learn” to become addicted much faster.
Today’s Marijuana Is Stronger
A generation or two ago, marijuana wasn’t as high-grade as it is now. Today’s marijuana has THC concentrations which have reached an all-time high (no pun intended), which can make it more addictive and cause more severe side effects than it did in the 1960s.
Growers have cultivated more THC – and therefore produced less CBD, which is the antipsychotic component – from today’s marijuana. Higher THC and lower CBD produces a higher high.
While this may seem like the goal of marijuana, it also creates many issues, such as anxiety, stress, and psychosis – creating the opposite effect of what the patient seeks. It can also lead to easier overdosing.
While a THC overdose isn’t usually lethal, it can produce hallucinations, panic attacks, and extreme paranoia. Having an overdose episode as a teenager can therefore create a psychotic episode or lead to psychotic disorders that can be difficult to ever recover from.
Trusted Pediatricians in Massachusetts
Marijuana has been propagated lately as a revolutionary health product. While some of its properties may be of positive use for those who are suffering from severe illness or extreme pain, it is not harmless – especially for kids and young adults.
It’s important that parents and their children discuss the potential dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, including marijuana.
We know that your child’s safety and health are incredibly important to you as a parent, and we feel the same way. At Children’s Health Care, we’ll help you navigate through your child’s various health care needs.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling (978) 465-7121 or (978) 388-9880 (Newburyport, lower and upper levels, respectively), or (978) 373-6557 (Haverhill). We look forward to providing your child the healthiest childhood possible.