Study refutes claims that cannabis affects teen brains

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The study was led by a group of researchers out of Arizona

There is an established belief that cannabis consumption during the teenage years can lead to issues with brain functions at a later time in the individual’s life. However, a new study refutes this position and goes so far as to say that there is almost zero long-term risk to young consumers. While the study certainly won’t be enough to sway marijuana opponents, it’s at least an indication that previous research may have been misguided.

The study was led by researchers with Arizona State University, who studied 1,000 adolescent boys starting in 1980. The participants self-reported their marijuana use – or lack thereof – and the researchers tracked the subjects over the years. The participants were listed in one of four categories – chronic users, escalators (those who went from smoking a little to smoking a lot), desistors and non-users.

Expected to be published in the September issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the research showed that “boys in different trajectory groups did not differ in terms of adult brain structure in any subcortical or cortical region of interest.” 181 of the participants were subjected to neuroimaging when they were between 30-36 and these showed no signs of any adulterated brain structure.

The researchers concluded, “Even boys with the highest level of marijuana consumption rate in adolescence showed subcortical brain volumes and cortical brain volumes and thickness in adulthood that were in line to those of boys with almost no exposure to marijuana throughout adolescence.”

They added, “Adolescent cannabis use is not associated with structural brain differences in adulthood.”