Health Impacts

Marijuana Impacts to the Brain

Marijuana use has both short and long term impacts to the brain. Regular use of marijuana compromises the ability to learn and remember information by impairing the ability to focus, sustain, and shift attention. Short term impacts can include impaired memory and body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, changes in mood and altered senses. Long term impacts occur when youth regularly use marijuana before their brain is fully developed around the age of 25. Long term use reduces the ability to organize and integrate complex information. Marijuana use affects how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for thinking, memory, and learning.

A 2012 longitudinal study showed that people who started using marijuana heavily in their teens and continued use into adulthood, lost an average of eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities did not fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults.

Impacts to Physical and Mental Health

Research studies demonstrate that marijuana is toxic and contributes to a variety of illnesses including: birth defects, respiratory damage, cancer, strokes, brain damage, infertility and the escalation of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Studies have shown that heavy marijuana use can lower the body’s ability to fight infection resulting in an adverse impact on the body’s immune system. This is an extremely concerning impact when paired with the movement to use marijuana under the guise of medicine.

Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to increased risk of both brain and behavioral problems in babies. There is mounting evidence to suggest that prenatal marijuana exposure can have a negative effect on fetal growth and that exposure to marijuana during periods of critical brain development can adversely impact neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes.

Research suggests that frequent or heavy marijuana use in adolescence is associated with the development of anxiety disorders in young adulthood. Studies have found that frequent marijuana use in teenagers predicts depression, as well as anxiety disorder, later in life. Additional research correlates use of marijuana in adolescence with the development of suicidal ideation, certain personality disorders, and interpersonal violence.