Marijuana-Using Teens Have Higher Risk for Schizophrenia

The long-term impacts of THC on adolescents could be more dangerous than once thought, according to a new study from Western University in Ontario, Canada.

Specifically, teens that use marijuana may be more likely to develop schizophrenia, researchers found.

After exposing adolescent rodents to THC, the team conducted tests in behavior and cognition to determine what types of symptoms were present - and how these results compared to the effects of THC exposure in human teens and adults.

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"Results showed substantial and persistent behavioral, neuronal and molecular changes that are identical to neuropsychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia," reported Medical News Today.

A period of vulnerable brain development

According to Dr. Steven Laviolette, teens' developing brains are particularly vulnerable to the effects of THC - while adults who use the drug may not experience the same negative effects.

Adolescent mice in the study, however, may indicate what can happen when teens are exposed to THC: these rodents were anxious, cognitively disorganized, socially withdrawn - all symptoms that are usually present in schizophrenia.

Even more concerning was that these effects lasted into early adulthood.

"Health policy makers need to ensure that marijuana, especially marijuana strains with high THC levels, stays out of the hands of teenagers," Laviolette said.

Source: Medical News Today

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