Now that marijuana is legal or medicinal in several U.S. states, parents are finding it extremely difficult to tell their teens that it is dangerous. Some parents may even be uncertain about the dangers of marijuana themselves. For an adult with particular medical conditions, marijuana may not pose much danger or have many side effects. However, scientists have conducted many studies and done much research on marijuana and the effects of it on adolescent brains. Scientists and doctors agree that the earlier an adolescent begins smoking, the higher the chances of permanently altering the brains structure and function.
Marijuana interacts with our brain through cannabinoid receptors in the areas of the brain that govern learning, habit
formation, motivation and reward, and decision making. Scientists believe that using marijuana as an adolescent seriously influences the way these parts of a person’s personality develop.
While researchers stress that a lot is unknown, it is now clear that cannabis is not harmless to the adolescent brain, especially those most vulnerable from a psychological or genetic standpoint.
It’s reasonable to suspect that marijuana use may have an effect on a still growing teenage brain. Because the part of the part of the brain that controls decision making is not fully formed in a teenager’s brain, teens oftentimes make very bad decisions. Add to that the huge debate about whether or not marijuana poses any real danger, and it becomes even harder to keep teens from using it.
When talking to your teen about substance abuse, ask him if it is a good decision to smoke marijuana when scientists agree that is could have detrimental effects on his brain. Tell your teen that while marijuana is legal in some states, it is not legal for someone his age.
There is a reason why marijuana is legal only under certain circumstances – just as alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21, and prescription drugs are illegal for anyone other than the person to whom they were prescribed. Breaking these laws could have damaging effects that last well into adulthood.