A recent New York Times opinion piece made the argument that the legal age for being able to use marijuana should be age 25. The issue of how extraordinarily more potent current marijuana is than it was before, is a significant contributing factor. As we have written in other blogs our brains develop from the back of our heads to the front, with the prefrontal cortex (the decision-making part) not generally completing development until ages 25 – 27. The piece quotes several studies that now show that early marijuana use may hurt brain development.
Specifically, marijuana can have
· A deleterious impact on cognitive development in adolescents
· Impairment of
“The damage is measurable with an I.Q. test. Researchers who tracked subjects from childhood through age 38found a consequential I.Q. decline over the 25-year period among adolescents who consistently used marijuana every week. In addition, studies have shown that substantial adolescent exposure to marijuana may be a predictor of opioid use disorders.”
Scientists now understand that THC (the ingredient that induces the high) interfears with the transmission of information between neurons in the brain. Regular exposure to THC may permanently change these neuro pathways. This may change the way adolescents think, learn and affect their attention and emotional responses.
By age 25 most people’s brain development is complete and the risk for interfering in these neural transactions is reduced. There is also some research that shows that the higher the age limit the less adolescent’s get access to it. At Gobi at hope we help teens and their families to find alternative approaches to dealing with peers and stress and help teens make better choices.