311 Adolescence & Cannabis

Based on Research by Lisdahl, Krista. M., Wright, N.E., Medina-Kirchner, C., Maple, K. E., & Shollenbarger, Skyler. (2014). written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Cannabis is the 2nd most popular drug used in adolescence as 23% of high school seniors and 20% of college students have used marijuana in the last month; 6% smoked cannabis daily. Wisconsin psychologists reviewed over 100 studies examining neurological consequences for young adult marijuana users (ages 15-25).

Results? First, adolescence is a sensitive developmental period as the brain’s white matter, essential in processing speed, continues developing. Cannabis use is significantly damaging to white matter development as well as grey matter and areas responsible for executive functioning. Second, cognition appears impacted significantly, particularly in verbal memory and attention with mood symptoms and memory deficits. Third, persistent cannabis use predicts a significant reduction in intelligence. Fourth, cannabis use impacts blood flow throughout the body, having long term deficits in vascular functioning. Lastly, the starting age of use impacts the amount and degree of deficits experienced. Cannabis use prior to age 18 reduces cognitive performance overall.

Cannabis use, even once per week, impacts adolescent brain functioning in attention, learning, processing speed, and executive functioning. Legalizing marijuana increases likelihood of use. Young People! Get educated. Save your precious brain. Don’t use Cannabis.


Lisdahl, K. M., Wright, N. E., Medina-Kirchner, C., Maple, K. E., & Shollenbarger, S. (2014). Considering Cannabis: The Effects of Regular Cannabis Use on Neurocognition in Adolescents and Young Adults. Current Addict Rep1, 144-156.

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