The head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse has warned that regular use of cannabis in your mid-20s can lead to long-term damage to brain development.
Head of the Federal institute Dr Nora Volkow who has led the agency for more than two decades, has raised new health concerns for people in their mid-20s; after it was recorded that marijuana usage between 19-30 year-olds is at an all-time high.
She told Daily Mail: “Legalisation not only has made access to cannabis easier for its regular use, but it has also contributed to the perception that cannabis is a 'safe' drug'."
"[This] makes it more appealing to individuals who are concerned of engaging in illegal activities or activities that endanger their health.”
With many young adults smoking the devil’s oregano, Dr Volkow is calling for new research to understand its health implications better.
Research shows that despite the drug becoming increasingly legal, it still elicits permanent damage to cognitive development.
Ms Volkow added: “Studies have shown that heavy and long-term marijuana use is associated with impairments in cognitive development and early initiation of marijuana use is associated with a higher risk of dropping out of school.”
She added: “Research has also shown an association between early, regular marijuana use and onset of psychosis as well as increased risk of anxiety and suicidality.”
Ms Volkow’s comments also support neuroscientist Yasmin Hurd’s opinion on cannabis. She believes young people must be more cautious when using the drug, as it can affect the brain’s endogenous cannabinoids.
Endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that monitor cell interaction that influences learning. They are also responsible for decision-making, emotional reactivity, and working memory.
“The endocannabinoid system is critical for regulating how cells speak to each other,” she explained while speaking to The Harvard Gazette.
And because cannabis interacts with the same receptors as endocannabinoids, it alters how our brain works.
She added: “If it feels intoxicating, it means it is binding to a receptor and changing your brain. The question is for how long — and does it increase your risk for psychiatric disorders?”
And while many use marijuana to treat mental health issues, Dr Hurd said it could be a case of ‘chicken or the egg’.
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