How long does marijuana leave young people dazed and confused? How long does it take for their brains to bounce back?
About three days, according to new research published this week in the journal of JAMA Psychiatry.
The study — which looked at the immediate impact of how marijuana impacts the brain in young people — found that when adolescent chronic marijuana users laid off the drug for 72 hours, their cognitive functions returned almost to the level of non-users.
But while the immediate impact appears minor, the study didn’t find that marijuana was harmless to young people. Far from it.
In fact, the study — a meta-analysis that looked at data from 69 previous studies — found that adolescents who are chronic marijuana users scored much lower on executive functions, including memory, learning and other cognitive tests than non-users did.
The issue is forefront in New Jersey as the state considers legalizing weed for recreational use.
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Theodore Petti, professor of psychiatry at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, cautioned the research.
While he acknowledged that it is possible a 72-hour repose could lessen some of the short-term cognitive effects of marijuana, he said that wasn’t the point.
The drug, he said, poses detrimental effects.
He said the simple reason is that young people’s brains are still developing, and remain vulnerable to marijuana.
“It increases dropping out in high school, decreases motivation and increases the likelihood on becoming dependent on marijuana,” Petti said.
A 2014 study also cautioned the early use of marijuana, saying that it “might have lasting consequences on cognition,” increasing the risk of mental disorders.
Petti also noted that the study merely looked at previous studies of the effects of heavy marijuana use rather than a live study with actual study participants.
“You can look at correlation, but you can’t look at causality,” he said.
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