Study of Marijuana Use Shows that it Interrupts Adolescent Brain Development

A new study just released by researchers at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago reports that repeated cannabinoid exposure in adolescence can interrupt the normal maturation process of the prefrontal cortex.  Marijuana is made up of four hundred different compounds with THC being the active ingredient that causes the feelings of “being high”.  The prefrontal cortex is the front part of the brain that regulates decision making and working memory and undergoes critical development during the teen years.

As was noted in one of our earlier blogs, “Our brains develop from the bottom to the top and from the back to the front.”  Dr. Kuei Y. Tseng, who conducted the research with rats, found that repeated cannabinoid use in early adolescence stalled the development of the prefrontal cortex and can cause persistent behavioral deficits in adulthood, including problems with attention span and impulse control.

Because of legalization and some relaxation, too many teens now think that marijuana is not harmful.  Statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show that 17% of patients are admitted for addiction to marijuana.  The team of clinicians and parents that helped build Gobi tried to help teens by asking questions that helped them think through what they were doing around substance use.  One of our last questions is “How do you feel now as opposed to 60 days ago?” and one Gobi participant answered “Better cuz I stopped smoking weed and started helping other people”.