New Evidence Pot May Harm the Teen Brain

Teens who stop smoking pot can think and learn better afterward, even if they are only light users, a new study reports.

Compared to teenagers and young adults who continued using marijuana, those who abstained for a month displayed a “modest but reliable improvement in their ability to learn,” said lead researcher Randi Schuster.

“Most of this improvement surprisingly happens rather quickly, within the first week of abstinence,” added Schuster, director of neuropsychology at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine.

The results show that kids need to be kept from using pot, Schuster said. This is a growing concern as recreational marijuana becomes legal in more U.S. states, she added.

“As we as a country move toward widespread legalization, we should pay attention to smart prevention programming for children,” Schuster said.

The researchers cited a 2016 survey that found almost 14 percent of middle and high school students had used pot in the prior month. It also showed daily use doubling between eighth and 12th grades.

Maturation of critical parts of the brain occurs in adolescence, and regular pot use in those years may cause more harm than later use, the researchers said in background notes.

Marijuana legalization proponents countered that the new study supports their contention that the effects of pot are temporary.

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