Great question – there seems to be a big misunderstanding that marijuana must be all safe all the time since there are so many states making it legal for medical and for personal use. And even a lot of adults are making this mistake, thinking that they smoked weed way back when (in the Dark Ages….) and they are fine, so what’s the big deal. Marijuana these days is different than when your parents were teens. For one thing, it is often stronger and more potent.
Now to get to your question, marijuana definitely has an effect on the brain. This effect occurs even more in teen brains since your brain is still developing. Marijuana definitely makes it harder for you to learn and to remember things, and it makes it harder to make good decisions since your judgment is affected (not for the better) and it messes up your coordination. There even is some research that when teens use weed regularly, brain development can be slowed down, meaning that your brain may never develop fully. Some studies show that your IQ actually can be affected too. Scientists are trying to figure out what exactly happens to the brain with marijuana use using MRIs and other studies to look at brains exposed to marijuana over time and at different ages.
One of the biggest problems showing that teen brain weed is that you are more likely to become addicted to it than if, say, an adult were exposed to it. This is because those brain cells are still forming, and what happens is the brain cells create reward pathways very quickly in teen brains. What that means is that the brain fires off a reward signal (feels good, relaxes you, the makes you NEED it or depend on it and that brain of yours keeps demanding more and more and won’t let you be).
So a really big problem may not be whether or not your brain cells are being killed, but that the reward pathways that are being built by those brain cells (or neurons) every time you use, really really increase your chance of getting hooked.
Did you know that about 1 in 6 teens that start using weed become hooked? The risks are even higher if there is a family history of addiction (to anything) since that can be inherited, or in teens who start using at younger ages or who use most days.
Hope this helps answer your question. For more Real Talk on weed, go HERE.