The effects of long-term marijuana use in teens

Published Jan 29, 2019 01:44 p.m. ET

 It’s been long considered a widely accepted fact, that long-term use of marijuana by teens can have many adverse side effects. Including long-term and short-term cognitive function impairment, memory loss, and lower IQ scores. However, a new study from the University of Pennsylvania may have you thinking a little differently.

The study states, “Results indicate that previous studies of cannabis use in youth may have overstated the magnitude and persistence of cognitive deficits associated with use.” The results of this study showed weed users scored slightly lower during memory tests, had a more difficult time learning new information and were slower with problem-solving and processing information than their non-cannabis using counterparts. While this doesn't sound any different than what we have heard in the past, there were some exciting results when the subjects abstained from marijuana use. These discrepancies almost completely vanished after 72 hours, suggesting that the long-term damage may be much more minimal than initially believed.

According to J.Cobb Scott, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.   “Cannabis use is widely associated with cognitive deficits. The difference between using and non using groups is quite small.” This analysis was published in the Jama Psychiatry Journal and compared the results from 69 previous studies completed between 1973 and 2017. The focus of all included studies was daily marijuana use of more than 2000 youth. 6500 people were used as comparison subjects.


The truth about cannabis use among youth at this point is still uncertain. There has been little research done about the risks found in these studies. They are often considered similar to those done on alcohol and tobacco. With the unknown potential health risks sometimes outweighing the benefits. Legalization is sweeping the globe, and with it, more studies will follow. For now, it’s still highly recommended that all users be cautious of the potential side effects and that youth who use regularly should be honest with their doctor about any experiences they may have.



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