A new study reveals that using cannabis as a minor could lead to developing memory problems later in life. Researchers found that the more adolescents used cannabis, the lower they scored on memory tests, inhibition control, and reasoning.
According to Newsweek, these findings were announced at the 13th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting and are expected to be published in the American Journal of Physiology later this year. To reach these conclusions, scientists polled 3,826 students from grades 7-11 attending schools in Montreal, Canada. Students were guaranteed their answers would be anonymized and protecting, encouraging them to answer as honeslty as possible.
The survey included questions on whether the students used cannabis or alcohol. If so, what was the frequency they used those substances on a 6-point scale ranging from “never” to “everyday” and how much they’d consume in a given instance. Students also gave information on socioeconomic status and sex to determine if other variables factored into the equation.
Then the students were given tests on “their memory, visual reasoning skills and inhibition levels.” Adolescent alcohol usage did not create the same cognitive problems that cannabis did. Researchers also found in a follow-up interview that those cognitive problems also presented themselves later in the adolescents’ lives.
“The work highlights some of the cognitive problems young people experience at a point in their life when they need optimal memory, problem-solving and concentration to ensure they maximize their educational potential, cannabis appears to impair their cognitive ability,” Ian Hamilton, a University of York professor not involved with the research, told Newsweek.
But Hamilton also mentioned the possible limitations of the study.
“We also don’t know how many young people just happened to use cannabis at the time the researchers assessed them, equally there could be young people who weren’t using cannabis at the point of assessment but did use cannabis at other times between assessments, we just don’t know.”
As legalization movements march onward, it’s important to keep this type of research in mind as well. Cannabis affects everyone differently. Until we know more, it’s best to discourage chronic or frequent teen substance use.