In a recent Reuters news release based on a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, when mothers used cannabis during the first 12 years of a child’s life there was a 40% higher risk their child would start using earlier than their peers. The study found that these kids started before age 17 while their peers started at age 18.
The lead author, Natasha Sokol, a doctoral student at Harvard T.H. Chen School of Public Health noted
“The time between 16 and 18 is a critical period of development. Marijuana might be disrupting certain aspects of brain development, including the development of the endocannabinoid system (an important modulatory system in the function of the brain). It’s been associated with depression and, in predisposed individuals, there seems to be an increased risk of the development of psychosis
Sokol also said that marijuana use at an early age can affect a child’s ability to learn due to missing school or lowered functioning at school. Dr. Michael Lynch, a toxicologist and emergency medicine physician and medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said the results are “concerning” adding “because …even proponents (of legalization) agree that younger initiation is unhealthy”.
At Gobi we hear often from parents that their teens think “weed” is safe. Marijuana is not a harmless plant (tobacco and poppies are plants too). And the marijuana available today is typically four times stronger than “Woodstock weed” of the 1960’s. Our brains are not fully developed until about age 25 and the last part to mature is responsible for important decision-making, including how we respond to gratification. Also, this part of the brain is most affected by substance use. A new study showed that marijuana can stay in the brain affecting decision making for up to 3 days. There is also some significant new research that shows that if your family has a history of mental illness, marijuana may hasten some forms of mental health issues like depression and schizophrenia. Not to also mention weed is a mood-altering substance that can lead to addiction.