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Can Cannabis Alter Neurodevelopment?

Posted by Lewis Olden on
Can Cannabis Alter Neurodevelopment?

A study that was recently undertaken discovered that cannabis use among adolescents has a negative impact on neurodevelopment. 

The study, which was published in JAMA Psychiatry used 1598 magnetic resonance (MR) images from 799 young people participating in the study. The images revealed that cannabis use was associated with accelerated age-related cortical thinning from 14-19 years old in primarily prefrontal regions. 

The authors of the study claimed that cannabis use for those in adolescence is associated with altered neurodevelopment, especially in cortices rich in CB1 receptors and undergoing the most significant age-related thickness change in middle to late adolescence.

The study concluded that the present investigation represents the largest longitudinal neuro-imaging study of adolescent cannabis use that has ever been carried out. There is evidence of an association between cannabis use and altered cortical thickness development in a sample of adolescents.

These studies findings underscore the importance of further longitudinal studies of adolescent cannabis use, which now are even more important because of the increasing trends of cannabis legalisation around the world.

Understanding the effect cannabis has on young people is a vital part of implementing sensible legislation that ensures the protection of teenagers. If cannabis is to be legalised, there must be stringent laws in place to make sure cannabis is not easily acquired by teenagers.

While cannabis is showing ever increasing promise to treat medical symptoms and conditions such as chronic pain, muscle spasms, seizures, and nausea from chemotherapy. Many of the benefits can be attributed to cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects and doesn’t cause the user to get high.

What is definitively known is that cannabis’ notorious high is caused by the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), many doctors and researchers do not consider the use of THC to be risk free.

In the short term, cannabis use can impair functions such as attention, memory, learning, and decision making. These effects can last for days before the high wears off and heavy cannabis use in adolescence or early adulthood can contribute to poor academic performance and depression.

There is still a lack of longitudinal studies that have been conducted to provide scientific evidence for these theories. Definitive evidence needs to be gathered to ensure that young people are protected from any potential long-term negative side effects that cannabis use in adolescence can have.

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