How Marijuana Affects the Brain of a Teenager

The scientists from the American University of Vermont’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology have stated that smoking marijuana by teenagers leads to brain changes. The brain of an adolescent continues to grow until the end of the teen period. Therefore, it’s quite sensitive to tetrahydrocannabinol (mostly referred as THC). This substance is found in marijuana and causes a feeling of drunkenness when smoking.

It turns out that the grey matter in the brain of teens who tried marijuana is lightly increased in comparison to a normal amount. The changes affected the part of the brain where the cannabinoid receptors are located. In particular, the increase was recorded in two areas of the brain: in the hippocampus, which is involved in the formation of memory and orientation in space, and in the amygdala, which is associated with a sense of fear.

However, scientists have not yet determined whether the increase of grey matter has a positive or negative effect on the brain. One thing is certain: among adolescents who use cannabis on a regular basis, doctors are seeing an increased incidence of anxiety disorders.

The authors of the publication believe that their study is especially relevant, since the legal status of cannabis is constantly being reviewed, and the perceived risks of smoking for adolescents in the public consciousness are constantly decreasing. Further research should show whether marijuana is harmless for the immature brains of adolescents.