Cannabis is more harmful to the teenager’s brain than alcohol

Cannabis is worse for developing brains than alcohol the study says

The study found that problems with cognitive abilities such as decision-making, attention span and academic performance at school increased alongside cannabis use.

Cannabis advocates like to believe that the drug is a safe alternative to alcohol - but a new study found cannabis is actually worse for teenage brains.

The research team recruited almost 4,000 teenagers from over thirty different Canadian schools to track them for a period of four years. "Their brains are still growing, but cannabis intervenes in this process, so teens should delay cannabis use as much as possible", he said.

Adolescents gave details of their drinking habits, cannabis and other substances, and they were subjected to cognitive tests each year. The Ste-Justine Hospital-Université de Montreal study discovered damage to primary cognitive functions that have been more intense than the ones triggered by alcohol use.

Overall, teens who used cannabis and drank alcohol were more likely to fare poorly on all domains of the cognitive test.

In total, 28 per cent of the teenagers admitted to some kind of cannabis use, compared with 75 per cent who reported drinking alcohol at least occasionally.

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It was noted an increase in marijuana use, unlike alcohol consumption, showed "additional concurrent and lagged effects" on functions like memory.

The study showed that the use of alcohol and cannabis during adolescence was associated with generally poorer performance in all cognitive areas.

"We think it's important because it is linked to how someone functions in life", said lead author Patricia Conrad, a professor of psychiatry at Montreal.

"Of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviours, and might explain why early-onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions", added Morin.

In a context where policies and attitudes regarding substance use are being reconsidered, this research highlights the importance of protecting youth from the adverse effects of consumption through greater investment in drug-prevention programmes.

Cannabis can create addiction (though smaller than "hard" drugs), as well as increase the risk of psychoses, especially in puberty.

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