Reversing the Effects of Teen Cannabis Use

Prohibitionists tread heavily on possible cannabis consumption by children or teens who somehow managed to acquire the plant despite its high cost. Researchers in Montréal now indicate any effects of THC on the structural development of the adolescent brain in animals or humans, harmful or not, can be permanently reversed by an application of additional drugs:

Dr. Patricia Conrod, at Université de Montréal, studied the year-to-year changes in alcohol and cannabis use and cognitive function in a sample of adolescents consisting of 5% of all students entering high school in 2012 and 2013 in the Greater Montreal region (a total of 3,826 7th grade students). […]

The researchers found substance use to be linked to low cognitive functioning, a finding that could be indicative of an underlying common vulnerability. Cannabis use was linked to impairments in working memory and inhibitory control, which is required for self-control. Cannabis use was also linked to deficits in memory recall and perceptual reasoning. Alcohol use was not linked to impairments in these cognitive functions, suggesting cannabis could have more long-term effects than alcohol. […]

Dr. Steven Laviolette presented research on the effect the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, on the adolescent brain, in rodent animal models. His team demonstrated that adolescent exposure to THC induces changes in a specific region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and in a brain circuit, the mesolimbic pathway, that closely resemble the abnormalities observed in schizophrenia. Furthermore, adolescent THC exposure also caused affective and cognitive abnormalities including deficits in social interactions, memory processing and anxiety regulation.

Interestingly, Dr. Laviolette’s team found that administration of drugs that restore normal PFC function in early adulthood could reverse the effects of adolescent THC exposure. They also demonstrated that co-administering THC with drugs that prevent the THC-induced disruption in brain signaling pathways prevented the development of schizophrenia-like effects. These results offer insights into ways to prevent or reverse THC-induced brain signaling defects in adolescents. […]

A chemically reversible biological condition suspected in certain illness prone teenagers who smoked pot illustrates the magic of drugs and the absurdity of drug wars. Prohibitionism will have people ignore the latest Canadian discoveries while the federal government pursues a medieval method involving drugs and law enforcement that avoids solving problems while creating even more problems — often for the financial or political benefit of the few.

Canada’s research findings may yet result in much needed changes in US drug policies. The survival of prohibitionist organizations and lobbyists, those who use the politics of paranoia to raise money and hysteria about teenage cannabis use, is highly in doubt.

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