A new study has found that smoking cannabis as an adolescent can damage the portion of the brain associated with long term memory. The research shows that teens who smoked every day for 3 years or more had abnormalities in their hippocampus. This is a portion of the brain which is associated with memory.
These teens also struggled on various tests of memory. On average, the heavy cannabis smokers performed 18% worse in long term memory tests when compared to those who had never used the drug.
The study points out that heavy cannabis users who used the drug for 3 years or more in their teens can expect to see changes in their brain by the time they reach their early 20s. The longer someone used cannabis in their teens, the more abnormalities there were in their hippocampus.
The effects on the brain and the memory problems appear to be long term or permanent. The study only used participants who had been cannabis free for around 2 years. This means that heavy cannabis use during adolescent and teen years could cause serious problems later in life.
Perhaps, more concerning, the study also showed that young adults with schizophrenia who abuse cannabis can expect even more damage. These people performed around 26% worse on memory tests than their cannabis free peers.
It is important to note that this study only examined 97 young adults and only looked at memory and hippocampus shape. This means that cannabis may have a particularly large impact on the developing brains of teens or it could mean that heavy cannabis use effects the brain at any age. Either way, it is a clear sign that cannabis may not be as harmless as some advocates claim.
If you would like to learn more about cannabis please visit our Cannabis Knowledge Centre. You can learn more about cannabis addiction treatment on our cannabis treatment page or you can contact us today if you have a cannabis abuse problem.