‘Pot heads’ like to think and say that the plant is a safe alternative to alcohol — however, a new study suggests marihuana is actually worse for teenage brains.
The study found the impact on memory, thinking skills and behavior was worse than that of teenage drinking.
The researchers followed 3,826 teenagers from age 12 to 15, measuring their alcohol and drug usage and their execution at school and in cognitive test.
Both cannabis and alcohol damaged the development of the teenagers, the research indicated — though cannabis worse.
Consuming substances such as cannabis, and drinking alcohol, at an early age is known to cause problems with academic performance at school … and too with cognitive abilities such as attention and decision-making.
The new study revealed these problems increased as marijuana use increased — and the effects were perpetual, unlike those of alcohol.
Dr. Patricia Conrod, from the Department of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal, noted, “Very few studies are designed to look at this question from a developmental perspective.
“Our study is unique in that it followed a large sample of high school students using cognitive and substance-use measures. Using this big-data approach, we were able to model the complex nature of the relationship between these sets of variables.”
Lead study author, Prof Patricia J Conrod, said she assumed alcohol would have had more of an impact on the teenagers’ brains (versus cannabis).
But, on the contrary, the research uncovered greater increases in errors in cognitive tests on the teenagers using weed — while they were ingesting ganja and after they had stopped.
These aftereffects were seen in reasoning, working memory and their ability to control their behavior.
“Their brains are still developing but cannabis is interfering with that,” Prof Conrod said, of teens. “They should delay their use of cannabis as long as they can.”
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