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NIDA Reports Marijuana’s Negative Effects on Teens

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Science Reports Weed is Bad for Kids

Depending on which side of the marijuana leaf you sit, THC use can either be a curative miracle or the key to Pandora’s box.

Many of the current debates about marijuana use center on its effects on adults. As legalization battles continue across the nation, people are  questioning the effects of marijuana use during childhood and adolescence.

Recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published a review in the New England Journal of Medicine. The review is based on comprehensive research conducted on marijuana use and its effects, particularly in youth. Researchers at NIDA collected data from preceding studies noting the adverse repercussions of marijuana use in teens. The review found that using marijuana during teenage years was linked to impaired critical thinking and memory function lasting days after initial use, impaired driving, and lower IQ scores maintaining into adulthood. When marijuana was used in conjunction with alcohol, the adverse effects increased.

Because the NIDA review compiled data from previous studies, the authors brought attention to the amount of THC – the primary intoxicating chemical – in marijuana. THC levels in marijuana used in the past decades are typically lower than those found in the marijuana strains cultivated today.

According to CNN, THC content has increased dramatically. Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, director of the Marijuana Potency Project, states that since 1972, average THC levels in marijuana have risen from 1% to 4% in the 1990s, to almost 13% today (today being August of 2013 at the time of the CNN article).

The NIDA researchers suggested the likelihood of an increase in adverse effects related to the increase in THC content. They also stressed the importance of further research necessary to determine the ramifications of legalization policies on public health, the adverse effects associated with second-hand marijuana smoke, and prenatal exposure to cannabis. I would assume more giggly babies with a penchant for Hot Cheetos.

Lead author and NIDA Director, Nora Volkow, M.D., commented on the review, “It is important to alert the public that using marijuana in the teen years brings health, social, and academic risk. Physicians in particular can play a role in conveying to families that early marijuana use can interfere with crucial social and developmental milestones and can impair cognitive development.”

Pot is bad for kids. Science wins.

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