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Teen Brains on Pot

September 13, 2012

Smoking marijuana regularly as a teenager may be associated with cognitive decline later in life.



A risk for teenage pot smoking. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, may take a particular toll on the adolescent brain. This according to Duke University psychologist Madeline Meier and her colleagues. Meier’s team studied a group of over a thousand New Zealanders followed from birth to age 38. Those who started using cannabis as teenagers suffered significant neuropsychological losses.

MADELINE MEIER (Duke University):

Adolescent-onset persistent cannabis users showed an average 8-point IQ decline, while a similar decline was not seen for the adult-onset persistent cannabis users.

And it wasn’t because of differences in education, or the total number of years using pot heavily. What’s more, quitting didn’t offset the impairments associated with adolescent cannabis use. Though the researchers don’t yet know if marijuana use caused the cognitive deficits, the results suggest that it may pose heightened risks to the developing teenage brain. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.