With more states legalizing marijuana, questions have surfaced regarding whether cannabis is safe for teens and young adults. Since the adolescent brain is still developing, marijuana’s side effects and risk of addiction are of particular concern. Due to a lack of evidence showing the drug is safe for teens, the Mayo Clinic is recommending that cannabis not be dispensed as pain relief for adolescents living with chronic pain.
At present there are 20 states that have given the okay for pot to be prescribed for medicinal reasons, and two states – Colorado and Washington – which are allowing marijuana to be used recreationally. But the price that young adults may have to pay for using marijuana for pain management is too great, says Michael Bostwick of the Mayo Clinic. Bostwick contends that the drug could be habit forming for young adults.
Side Effects Of Medical Marijuana
Some of the drug’s side effects include reduced focus, lagging reaction times and weariness – all concerning for teens at school or behind the wheel. When cannabis is smoked frequently it can result in poor coordination, learning and memory problems, inaccurate discernment and impaired problem solving skills. According to the Mayo Clinic, pot can also cause a person to become anxious, dizzy, sedated or unmotivated.
Additionally, pot has been shown to be addictive. Current data indicates that about 10 percent of those who engage in marijuana use will get hooked, with individuals under 25 at greatest risk of dependency. The Mayo Clinic cites three adolescents treated by the clinic who, in spite of receiving marijuana for ongoing pain, continued to experience discomfort as well as issues with functioning and being social.
Researchers from Mayo call attention to the fact that, for those who are more susceptible to psychosis, smoking weed prior to age 16 can result in symptoms presenting themselves more quickly. One decade-long study printed in British Medical Journal indicated that when young adults used marijuana they doubled their chances of developing psychotic symptoms.
There is also some evidence to suggest that smoking pot as a young adult may lead to lower adult IQ scores when compared to those who started smoking later in life. Because of the potential for negative side effects and abuse, the Mayo Clinic recommends that teens seek alternate treatments for pain such as acupuncture, biofeedback and physical therapy.
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