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The Real Dangers of Adolescent Marijuana Abuse

How dangerous is marijuana, really? The campaign against the drug in the United States began in the early 1900s, when it was a common ingredient of many medicines and drugs. After prohibition, the substance saw a much more substantial amount of regulation, culminating in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Marijuana was labeled a Schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, and little to no medical use. However, as we discover more about the drug, our collective opinion of cannabis may change. More states have begun to legalize marijuana, and little impact has been seen to the overall health of these states. However, this doesn’t mean marijuana is a perfectly safe substance. Rather, marijuana can be incredibly dangerous, especially if it’s used by teenagers and young adults.

Harming the Developing Mind

A recent study by the University of Montreal confirms the fears and hesitations many have over marijuana. The study found that “adolescents who smoke marijuana as early as 14 do worse by 20 on some cognitive tests and drop out of school at a higher rate than non-smokers. But if they hold off until age 17, they’re less at risk.” While brain damage was always an assumed side effect of marijuana use, this study concludes that the severity is much worse than what was generally assumed. Researchers found that if users held off on smoking marijuana until 17 or 18, the effects of marijuana on the brain were severely diminished, or entirely nonexistent. However, this doesn’t mean anyone over 17 gets a free pass to use marijuana.

Legal Doesn’t Mean Safe

Marijuana can still be a dangerous drug, regardless of your age. Studies have shown that brain damage can occur if abused, and while rare, addictions to marijuana can form. This study, however, hopes to put into perspective just how dangerous it can be to engage in substance abuse at an early age. The researchers concluded that their study suggested that not only would academic performance suffer, but the development of essential life skills and social abilities would be slowed or halted all together. While marijuana may be finding a new legal status in many states, this doesn’t mean it should be used with no regard to your health. Just like other legal substances, such as alcohol, there are inherent and serious dangerous associated with it that should not be taken lightly.

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