Benefits of Cannabis
Cannabis comes with a huge list of medical benefits. Even states that have yet to legalize cannabis for “recreational” use (which is often just medical use by people who can’t get a doctor’s note for their anxiety, depression, fatigue, or other symptom) are recognizing the treatment and curative properties of the plant, and most states allowing more than just CBD extract for epilepsy are embracing cannabis as a natural alternative for:
- Pain from cancer and cancer treatment
- Chronic pain
- And many other conditions
However, just because cannabis’ list of side effects isn’t quite as terrifying or counterintuitive as those that accompany some pharmaceuticals (anti-anxiety medicine that could cause anxiety?!), that isn’t to say no potential issues could possibly arise from its use.
Dry mouth and eyes, the munchies and minor paranoia aren’t fun but certainly aren’t devastating. There is some evidence, though, that indicates cannabis could more seriously affect young people.
Age Restrictions on Cannabis
It’s easy to write off the fact that legal cannabis is limited to people over the age of majority simply because the government wants control and it’s what’s always been done with other substances like cigarettes and alcohol. But the truth is, it’s possible cannabis poses a serious long-term risk to adolescents just like those other products, despite its all-natural status.
Let’s take a look at the science behind restricting adolescent use of marijuana.
Potential Dangers of Cannabis Use by Adolescents
Before you write off that person advocating against pot use by teens as one more zealous cannabis hater, it’s important to consider brain development. Science suggests the human brain isn’t fully developed until around age 25.
One study of teens and marijuana showed that kids who regularly used pot had to “engage more brain resources” to accurately complete tasks that measured things like impulsivity and sustained attention. Potential factors such as socioeconomic status were taken into consideration in the study, and it was determined that cannabis was the most likely cause of this difficulty.
Animal studies conducted in the 80s showed similar results, and it was found that even after long periods without cannabis (equivalent to many human years), difficulties in learning and memory remained. The psychoactive cannabinoid THC is generally agreed to play the largest role in these effects.
And THC levels of cannabis seem to be continuously on the rise. Back in Woodstock days cannabis was about 1% THC, and today, 30% THC strains are readily available.
It’s important to note this research is mostly focused around adolescents who use or used cannabis extensively, not the kid who tried weed a few times and moved on. But some substances just aren’t meant for people whose brains are still developing, because so many things are still changing and morphing; adding something non-native (even something that fits so nicely into our body systems) doesn’t seem like the best idea.
CBD and Adolescent Use
Of course, the information above is looking at THC, and it’s likely the psychoactive effects of the cannabinoid are the root of the problem. So what about non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD?
Many people have heard the story of Charlotte, the child with Dravet Syndrome for whom a CBD cannabis strain called Charlotte’s Web proved a literal lifesaver (her seizures were reduced from 1200 to 2-4 per month). It seems likely that products containing no psychoactive cannabinoids are a safe – and obviously effective – option for certain conditions. There are even one or two states remaining with a single, strict marijuana law: CBD can be used for children under 18 suffering from intractable or treatment-resistant epilepsy and nothing else.
Note: Though, at Growers Choice we sell a number of excellent high-CBD cannabis seed strains, these are not THC-free options and should not be given to people under the legal age unless explicitly directed by a physician.
We can’t help but wonder whether sharing information like this with teens and pre-teens – rather than telling them how awful, horrifying and generally useless cannabis is – might encourage them to be smart and wait, rather than go after a restricted substance in rebellion. It won’t fix all the problems, obviously, but the truth can make quite a difference!
What do you think?