What the experts think about teen cannabis use

Published Jan 5, 2021 10:00 a.m. ET
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Do you agree with Jami Wolf Dolan, who thinks that no drug is entirely safe? Well, he believes that this is even true cannabis. He says that this statement is critical for young people who enjoy smoking weed to hear; it can and does impact teen health.

The legalization, decriminalization of cannabis is growing across the United States, and so is the accessibility of cannabis to teens. As accessibility grows, so does the need for teens to be educated on the adverse effects of cannabis on health and how to use it safely.

When teens choose to smoke cannabis at such an early stage of life, it can impact their ability to learn some essential life skills. These life skills include:

  • Making friends

  • Managing emotions

It also impairs both memory and cognitive skills in teens. According to Wolf-Dolan, the safest way for teens to smoke cannabis is not to not use it at all during the adolescent years. Wolf-Dolan does, however, also agree that asking young people to abstain from using cannabis won’t always work.

Too much

There are no noted fast and hard rules to determine how much weed smoking is too much for teenagers. However, there are some noticeable signs to look out for. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seems to indicate that cannabis dependency may include these signs:

  • Giving up important activities and relationships to be able to use cannabis

  • Trying to quit and failing.

  • Continued use of cannabis even when you know it is causing issues and problems in your daily life.

These signs are essential for regular cannabis users to be aware of, but it’s also important to know that the issues may not be as cut and dry as the list mentioned above.

Different levels

Levels of cannabis dependency can vary from one person to the next. When health professionals who are diagnosing concerns ask questions, if the patient answers yes two or more times, then the diagnosis is that one has a mild cannabis dependency. Some cannabis smokers who indulge regularly live totally productive and fulfilled lives despite the harmful stereotype that says otherwise.

Good and bad

Young teens and adults have indicated that they smoke regularly to relax, and many chose to smoke with friends. Young adults have suggested that smoking weed helps them to communicate and feel more comfortable around friends while winding down after a day’s work.

Yasemin, a 23-year-old living in New Jersey, does feel that there are times when smoking weed has a negative effect. He noted that the weed no longer comforted or bought joy but instead produced feelings of intoxication.

Schizophrenia

Young adults and teens who smoke cannabis may be messing up their brain chemistry in ways they don’t fully understand. There is evidence that shows teens who smoke regularly increase their chances of developing psychosis, a pattern of unusual perceptions and thoughts.

Smoking early for teens and young adults may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. The debilitating brain disorder can cause psychosis, but problems with concentrating and the loss of emotional expression are also noticed.

One of the better-known studies on cannabis and teens was conducted in Sweden, and it followed soldiers for 15 years. In the end, researchers found that those who smoked weed more than once were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia than those that hadn’t. The heavy users who had smoked more than fifty times were six times more likely to develop schizophrenia than non-cannabis users.

Final thoughts

Interestingly, the research conducted shows an association between smoking weed and developing psychosis or schizophrenia later in like. It is by no means the same as saying that weed causes schizophrenia. The teen brain is still a work in process until the age of 25. Until then, certain brain areas that are responsible for problem-solving are still making connections with the brain's emotional centers. Smoking weed may be accountable for derailing this process, which is why it is considered to be a risk to teenagers.

Cannabis may be able to help some teens who are at risk of overdose

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