Marijuana is often considered to be a harmless drug. In the short-term, marijuana is much less harmful than other substances, but chronic and consistent use overtime can lead to some major health problems. Research into the effects of marijuana has found that the developing brain, in particular, can be negatively impacted in the long-term. One of the most pronounced complications that can arise from marijuana use is its negative impacts on mental health. Adolescents in particular are at risk of developing problems associated with mental and emotional health because their brains are still developing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Human studies have found, to varying degrees, that early marijuana use is associated with risk for anxiety and depression. However, the relationship is complex and poorly understood. Some studies suggest that if you carry certain genes you may be at increased risk for developing a psychiatric disorder, like schizophrenia if you use marijuana. Some studies also found that there are certain genes that make you more prone to developing psychosis if you smoke marijuana. Not surprisingly, the amount you smoke will increase your risk of psychosis. In fact, the risk for psychosis was 7 times higher for daily marijuana users than less frequent or non-users among these specific gene carriers.” Impaired cognitive functioning, memory problems, and problems associated with learning are associated with early marijuana use. Marijuana’s long-term effects on the brain can be quite serious. The NIDA explains, “a study from New Zealand conducted in part by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities didn’t fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults didn’t show notable IQ declines.” Adults may be at less of a risk for developing the same cognitive problems as adolescent marijuana users, but adults who smoke marijuana consistently report more financial problems, relationship problems, and overall lower life satisfaction.
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