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How Marijuana Affects the Teenage Brain

Marijuana is a popular drug in the United States. While most people enjoy it, experts are investigating how marijuana affects the teenage brain. Teenagers don’t know how marijuana affects their brains. This is a call for concern as the potency levels of cannabis continue rising.

Adolescence is a delicate time for the developing brain. There is scientific evidence on how marijuana affects the teenage brain. When teens use marijuana, it could deter their ability to problem solve. Cannabis can also hinder their memory and critical thinking in general. 

Can marijuana affect brain development?

The teenage brain develops until around age 25. The critical areas in development include planning, decision-making, and learning. During this stage, any disruption results in abnormal and unwanted effects. Research notes that when you consume cannabis, cannabinoids enter the bloodstream. These compounds bind naturally to bodily receptors. This alters learning and memory, coordination, reaction time, and judgment. It may also result in hallucinations, paranoia, and mood swings. However, these symptoms are usually common in chronic cannabis users.

Marijuana doesn’t hinder the development of all teenage brains. This is because every person reacts differently to cannabis. Cannabis’s impact on the brain depends on the concentration of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid. It will also depend on genetics, environment, and addiction to other drugs. Teenagers who negatively suffer from cannabis experience marijuana use disorder.

Effects of marijuana on the teenage brain

Many teenagers believe that cannabis is a great alternative to alcohol or other drugs. This is technically true. Teenagers who consume low THC cannabis won’t undergo negative effects. However heavy consumption of THC at an early age can cause adverse effects. According to research, cannabis can lead to serious problems with learning, feelings, and health.

Short-term use of marijuana on the teenage brain

  • School difficulties
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Extreme anger
  • Difficulties driving
  • Using cannabis as a gateway drug 
  • Mood changes and suicidal thoughts
  • High chances of psychosis
  • High side effects from prescription medication

Regularly using cannabis can also lead to significant problems such as Cannabis Use Disorder.

Cannabis Use Disorder among teenagers may lead to symptoms such as cravings. It can also cause isolation from friends and family. Teenagers experiencing Cannabis Use Disorder may not easily stop consuming cannabis. This is because immediate withdrawal from cannabis can lead to withdrawal symptoms. While withdrawal symptoms are not dangerous, they can cause loss of appetite and sleep. 

Long-term effects of marijuana on the teenage brain

  • Cannabis Use Disorder
  • Respiratory issues
  • Risk of lung cancer
  • Low motivation to study or do office tasks
  • Lower IQ levels
  • Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. 


It can be difficult for adults to know how marijuana affects the teenage brain. However, if you have a teenager at home with cannabis use disorder you will understand. Marijuana use in teens can result in long-term effects. Most teenagers are unaware of the problems related to marijuana use. Therefore, the best way to prevent issues relating to marijuana in teenagers is through education. The teachers should educate teenagers on the effects of cannabis. The parents should also talk to their children about the harmful effects of cannabis.