Drug Testing News BLOG

In a research done by scientists at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, adults who started smoking pot before they were fifteen years old exhibited serious brain problems. Their attention span, impulse control, and their ability to plan and execute tasks have been affected by the early onset of pot addiction in their lives.

Those who take marijuana later on in life were less vulnerable to such irreparable damages to the brain.

In a feature on CBS News, Dr. Maria Alice Fontes shares "We found that early-onset, but not late-onset, chronic cannabis users had deficits in their cognitive functioning. Adolescence is a period in which the brain appears to be particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of cannabis. The brain before the age of 15 is still developing and maturing, so exposure to cannabis during this period may be more harmful."

What researchers in Brazil found out was also supported by Dr. Karen Bolla from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She co-authored the study and confirms that brain development is a continuing process until the early twenties. The substances found in marijuana alter some of the brain’s chemical and structural balances resulting in cognitive problems.

The findings of the research can be very troubling for Americans. In 2009 alone, statistics showed that 7% of 8th graders and 16% of 10th graders already had pot exposure according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This could translate to adults having uncoordinated brain skills in the future.

The same message is once again flashed right in front of teens who still experiment with marijuana. At their age, brain development is critical, and putting in some dangerous substances in one’s system could mean complications later on in life.

Details of the research can be found in the British Journal of Psychiatry.