Because a young person’s brain is still developing until their mid-20s, using marijuana during this time can permanently damage the structure of their brain, specifically the areas dealing with memory and problem solving.

Regular marijuana use by teens can lead to an IQ drop of up to eight points. Students who use marijuana regularly (defined as once a week or more) tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.

There are physical and mental health consequences for young people who use marijuana under the age of 24, while the brain is completing important development. Using marijuana during this time can actually rewire the brain for addiction as it interferes with the brain’s reward center.

Early marijuana use increases the risk of becoming dependent on other substances.

It is a lot stronger these days

Today’s marijuana is almost 300% stronger than it was in the 1980s and can contain around 18% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the main psychoactive ingredient. The level of THC used to be only 2% and this high of level now poses a greater risk for young people and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. It has also led to an increase in emergency room visits for increased heart rate, psychosis, vomiting, and panic attacks.

Today’s marijuana is almost 300% stronger than it was inthe 1980s and can contain around 18% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) compared to 2% – the main psychoactive ingredient.

health risks of Marijuana

The risk of a heart attack is several times higher after using marijuana, which increases blood pressure and causes the heart to beat about 50% faster.

Using marijuana reduces oxygen in the blood, forcing the body to work harder to perform normal functions.

Marijuana use affects hormones in boys and girls and interferes with testosterone production.

Young people may think that marijuana helps with anxiety. The chemicals found in marijuana mimic one of the brain’s neurotransmitters, which makes the user feel good, yet it reduces the amount the body makes on its own. Once dependent on THC, they will feel good when they are using it, but they may feel anxious and depressed without it.

Marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke and causes the same respiratory illnesses. It deposits four times as much tar in the lungs as tobacco because it is unfiltered and inhaled more deeply.


Marijuana is legal now in California, so it’s okay for me to try it.

It’s still not legal for anyone under 21. This age limit is meant to protect adolescents from its harmful effects. Your brain is completing some very important development and using marijuana at this time can interfere with this development, specifically the areas dealing with memory and problem solving. Today’s marijuana is almost 300% stronger than it was when I was growing up. This is a real concern for me.

Marijuana is a natural plant. That means it’s okay.

Just because it is “natural” does not mean it’s safe. Because it is still federally illegal, there are few regulations ensuring that it meets safety guidelines. The strength and potency of marijuana varies, and it often contains a large amount of pesticides, fungus, and even lead. Now that it has become “big business” funded by large tobacco companies, there is not much that is “natural” about it.

Did you smoke marijuana when you were young?

I did not know a lot about the impact of drugs and alcohol on the developing brain when I was your age. I may have made some choices that I am hoping you won’t repeat. I’m hoping that we can have an open conversation and learn about it together.

It helps with my anxiety.

I am sorry you are feeling anxious; I know that’s a difficult feeling. While marijuana may make you feel relaxed while you are using it, it can actually make you feel worse in the long run. A chemical in marijuana, THC, mimics one of the brain’s neurotransmitters that makes you feel good – reducing the amount your body makes on its own. Once you’ve become dependent on THC, you’ll feel good when you’re using it, but you won’t have enough of your own chemical messengers to feel good when you are not using it. Can we think of some other ways to help you relax?

Would you rather I drink alcohol? Marijuana seems safer.

Honestly, I don’t want you doing anything that can harm you. I’m interested in knowing why you think marijuana is safer than alcohol. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about marijuana and it’s important to understand that marijuana is as dangerous as alcohol on the developing brain. Teens who begin using marijuana often have difficulty with emotions, lose motivation for school, andjeopardize lifelong friendships. Right now, neither option seems like a healthy choice.