Long lasting consequences of cannabis exposure in adolescence

Despite the increasing use of cannabis among adolescents, there are little and often contradictory studies on the long-term neurobiological consequences of cannabis consumption in juveniles.

Adolescence is a critical phase for cerebral development, where the endocannabinoid system plays an important role influencing the release and action of different neurotransmitters.

Therefore, a strong stimulation by the psychoactive component of marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), might lead to subtle but lasting neurobiological changes that can affect adult brain functions and behaviour.

The literature here summarized by use of experimental animal models, puts forward that heavy cannabis consumption in adolescence may induce subtle changes in the adult brain circuits ending in altered emotional and cognitive performance, enhanced vulnerability for the use of more harmful drugs of abuse in selected individuals, and may represent a risk factor for developing schizophrenia in adulthood.

Therefore, the potential problems arising in relation to marijuana consumption in adolescence suggest that this developmental phase is a vulnerable period for persistent adverse effects of cannabinoids.

Source: Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2008 Apr 16;286

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