Study: Adolescent Cannabis Exposure Not Related with Structural Brain Variations in Adulthood


The use of cannabis in the course of adolescence is not connected with structural brain variations in adulthood, according to longitudinal data published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Commenting on the new study, NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine – Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany – stated: “These information replicate preceding perform to reveal that even some of the most frequent customers of cannabis do not show alterations later in brain structure. The measures are incredibly sensitive and the researchers looked all through the brain incredibly completely. Let’s hope that these findings mitigate some of the alarmist cries that have as well typically persisted and dominated this narrative.”

Investigators from Arizona State University and the University of Pittsburgh assessed the effect of adolescent cannabis exposure on brain morphology in adulthood. Researchers tracked differing adolescent use patterns – from no cannabis use (defined as 4 days of use or significantly less) to heavy use (defined as, on typical, 782 days of use) – in a cohort of 1,000 teenage boys. A subset of participants subsequently underwent structural brain imaging in adulthood (amongst the ages of 30 to 36). Scientists examined 14 brain regions of interest, such as the amygdala and the hippocampus.

Authors reported, “We discovered that adolescent cannabis use was not connected with adult brain structure in a sample of boys followed prospectively to adulthood.”

They added: “Boys have been classified into a single of 4 prototypical adolescent cannabis trajectory subgroups primarily based on potential assessments of cannabis use frequency from age 13–19: infrequent use/no use, desisting use, escalating use, or chronic-reasonably frequent use. … We discovered no variations in adult brain structure for boys in the various adolescent cannabis trajectory subgroups. Even boys with the highest level of cannabis exposure in adolescence showed subcortical brain volumes and cortical brain volumes and thickness in adulthood that have been equivalent to boys with just about no exposure to cannabis all through adolescence.”

They concluded, “[T]he patterns of cannabis use generally noticed in neighborhood-dwelling adolescents does not seem to have lasting effects on brain structure.”

The findings are constant with these of many prior brain imaging research, such as those here, here, here, and here. A current meta-evaluation published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry similarly reported that youth cannabis exposure does not seem to be connected with any sustained cognitive deficits in adulthood.

The abstract of the study, “Associations amongst adolescent cannabis use frequency and adult brain structure: A potential study of boys followed to adulthood,” seems online right here.


NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the accountable use of cannabis by adults, and to serve as an advocate for buyers to assure they have access to higher-excellent cannabis that is protected, hassle-free, and reasonably priced.

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