Effects of Early Onset Cannabis Use: Is Cannabis Damaging The Potential of Canada’s Youth?
Effects of Early Onset Cannabis Use: Is cannabis damaging the potential of Canada’s youth?
Cannabis does not damage brain cells, but there may be a different problem associated with early onset of cannabis use… brain development. This is a problem that has been on the political front since Justin Trudeau announced his intention to legalize cannabis back in 2015. Many brush the issue aside, but it is imperative to understand how early onset of sustained cannabis use will impact Canada’s future workforce. Addiction and dependency issues surrounding cannabis should be taken seriously, just as they are with opioids, stimulants, or alcohol.
Dependence is a major issue associated with frequent cannabis use. When the drug is used on a high frequency basis, cannabis decreases the body’s own production in the endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. As marijuana use increases, the body becomes reliant on it to produce certain chemicals that can affect mood, sleep, hunger, cravings, etc. The resulting problem is habitual and progressively compulsive drug seeking.
In adolescence, it seems although that experimenting with drugs is part of growing up, particularly for millennials. However, experimentation can progressively turn from voluntary to habitual. A habitual substance abuse problem can spell danger to those whose brains have not fully developed. Frequent and sustained use of cannabis in adolescents can lead to altercations in the brain and cognition capabilities.
The most noteworthy risk of early onset cannabis use is development issues in the prefrontal cortex, which is known to be responsible for executive decision-making, impulse control, personality expression, and sustained attention. This area of the brain is developed well into your mid twenties, years after a Canadian becomes of age. It is a primary age for learning and developing the skills needed to contribute to the economy. Even when someone is of legal age to consume cannabis in Canada, they are susceptible to the risks associated with brain development and dependency issues. Dependency however applies to all ages, and can render serious consequences in long-term, and day-to-day life. Brain development risks are however fairly mitigated after the brain has finished developing.
These are all problems that, as a young person, concern me. I think that the research surrounding these risks will play a primary role in helping Canadians make informed decisions about using cannabis. The Government of Canada is working diligently on informing people of these risks associated with cannabis use, and I encourage you to take a look at their link below. Also, being able to realize when substance use has become a habit is essential in understanding when to get help. If you think you or someone you know may have a substance abuse problem, click the other link below to find out how you can stop it.