Cannabis use in adolescents has always been labeled as dangerous for their developing brain, however, there is a study that says it has no effect. We're going to go into detail with both studies and let you decide.
The first study claims cannabis use, even one time, can change a teenage brain. This study analysed 46, 14-year-old boys and girls from multiple countries including France and Germany. The study found that the teens who claimed to use marijuana, even just 1 time, showed increased volume in the emotion-related processing, learning and forming memories sections of the brain.
"Most people would likely assume that one or two uses (joints) would have no impact, so we were curious to study this — and especially to investigate if first uses may actually produce brain changes that affect future behavior like subsequent use,” explained Hugh Garavan, lead author of the study and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont School of Medicine.
It wasn't explained what the 'increased brain matter volume' would do to the brain, just that the adolescents who smoked had more gray matter in certain parts of the brain.
Another study claims marijuana has worse effects on a developing brain than alcohol. This is shocking news to me. They discovered that teens who smoked frequently had lower scores on memory tests, learning new information and higher-level problem solving and information processing. These studies did not go into mental health differences, as that may be another factor that is important to study.
“As is always the case, more research is needed to replicate these effects, to try to understand the mechanisms, and critically, to unearth what additional factors may identify which cannabis-using kids show these effects and which ones don’t,” said Garavan.
Now let's get into the study that claims cannabis use in adolescents isn't as detrimental as most people make it out to be.
This study began back in the 1980s, when researchers at Arizona State University studied 200 boys who used cannabis in their teens then 20 years later they compared their MRI's. The boys were now in their 30's.
“We found no differences in adult brain structure,” stated the study. “Even boys with the highest level of cannabis exposure in adolescence showed subcortical brain volumes and cortical brain volumes and thickness in adulthood that were similar to boys with almost no exposure to cannabis throughout adolescence.”
This study focused on the subcortical brain volumes and cortical brain volumes and thickness while others focus on gray matter shape and density. The latter may actually be a more accurate way to determine actual brain differences but it's always important to study every aspect.
Honestly all of this should be taken with a grain of salt as studies are constantly happening and changing the 'findings' of each study. I would still be weary of using cannabis as a teen or young adult, since there still isn't concrete yay or nay findings. The devolving brain is very sensitive, so I say playing it safe is always the best option.