The number of adolescents using Cannabis is increasing across the nation. Some of this is a natural consequence of legalization in some states as well as a general shift in societal views of Cannabis use. There is a perception among many and if not, most adolescents who use that Cannabis is benign and is risk free. There is also a perception among many parents and public officials that Cannabis is indeed benign, and its use is not that big of a deal. As a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, this is a major conversation point with many of my patients on an almost daily basis. I get to see up close and personal the myriad of negative consequences taking place in many of my patients’ lives. This is not just an interesting debate from my perspective; the decisions that the adults are making are directly negatively impacting kids.
There is much research in the psychiatry medical literature showing the potential serious negative consequences (especially higher risks of psychosis) of Cannabis use. There was another recent study that I want to briefly highlight. Researchers from Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience examining teen brain volume changes with extremely low levels of Cannabis use in adolescence. They conclude that “This study presents evidence suggesting structural brain and cognitive effects of just one or two instances of cannabis use in adolescence. “This is further evidence that even minimal use influences the developing adolescent brain. Adolescent use of Cannabis needs to be addressed by the adults who have been entrusted with the welfare of kids who are frequently not mature enough to discern negative consequences.