We all know somebody who doesn't smoke because it makes them paranoid (full disclosure: I am one of those people) or antisocial at parties (also one of those people). But many who swear by pot say that mindset is bullshit—that we all "just need to relax." Now, there's a study to address just that—and it's looking really bad for teenage stoners.
The paper (published in the American Journal of Psychiatry) looked at 1,009 American boys aged 13 to 18 with varying levels of self-reported (meaning probably under-reported) marijuana usage. The study concludes a 5-year look at the effect the drug had on adolescent brains, and it found that the drug had serious ramifications on the mental health of teens blazing up the dank.
For every year the teens smoked weed, symptoms of psychosis rose 21 percent annually. In tandem, symptoms of paranoia and hallucinations rose 133 percent and 92 percent. These symptoms lasted and continued to intensify following the one year after they stopped smoking pot.
The research also made sure to determine that the boys were not experiencing the conclusion in reverse—increased marijuana usage due to, not because of, mental illness—by running them through regular psychoanalysis that evaluated their mental health.
"[T]he most concerning finding is that the effect of prior weekly marijuana use persists even after adolescents have stopped using for one year," the researchers wrote.
During the collection of final results, 270—over a quarter—of the participants had been using pot regularly. The researchers also found that 325 had used alcohol weekly, 377 smoked cigarettes daily, and 134 reported using illegal drugs on at least one occasion. The research did not go into detail if the usage of these drugs had changed at all alongside the use of marijuana.
The study—which did not test girls or adults—concluded that more research is needed in the field (the conclusion of every single study ever), but urges that "preventative policies" are put in place to protect undeveloped adolescent brains from getting ahold of legal weed as we move into the golden age of legalization.
The findings are similar to what most researchers have been saying in the field, which is that pot is not necessarily good for teens, but hasn't been undeniably proven bad either. Some researchers have found delayed brain development, or the formation of poor learning habits, but overall science on the subject is murky at best.
In the US, states like Colorado and Washington have already battled with the issue of regulation around legalized pot, and in Canada, the government is toying with the idea of introducing a minimum age of 25 for the purchase of marijuana after the legalization process begins next year.