A new study has revealed that heavy pot use in adolescence is linked to weaker memories. It appears that teens who smoke a lot of pot have poorer memories and also some brain abnormalities than those who smoke less or no marijuana at all. While the study cannot safely say which one came first, the brain abnormalities or the pot use, it is safe to say that heavy pot use does have long-terms effects. The results of the study were published in the journal Hippocampus.
The study was performed by a team of researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The team followed 97 teenagers with and without mental illness. The teens who smoked weed, said that they had started using the drug at 16 or 17 and that they have been using pot and just pot daily.
After careful examination it was revealed that marijuana users had some brain abnormalities, such as an abnormally-shaped hippocampus, which is the area of the brain used for storing long-term memory. They also performed 18% worse on long-term memory tasks.
Doctor John Csernansky, one of the authors of the study, said that the memory processes that appear to be affected by marijuana are the ones that people use every single day to sustain relationships with family and friends and to solve common issues.
The Northwestern University researchers admit that the abnormalities in the brain could reveal a pre-existing vulnerability to pot abuse, but there is evidence that sustains the fact that the longer participants were abusing the drug, the greater the differences in hippocampus shape, which means that marijuana may very well be the cause.
The effect of heavy pot use in teens lasted into the early 20s, even after the volunteers stopped smoking pot.
It was also found that patients with schizophrenia who were heavy pot smokers did about 26% worse on memory tests than the schizophrenia patients who did not smoke pot.
While marijuana has been found to help with glaucoma, nausea and cancer pain, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes non-medical use of marijuana for children and teens.
Past studies have also found that marijuana is the safest substance to abuse. Pot was found to be far less likely to kill than alcohol, hard drugs such as heroin and even tobacco.
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