Two new studies from the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Psychiatry tell us a few things about marijuana use, while leaving many remaining questions.
The first study did determine that marijuana use does not shrink certain regions of the brain, but that the brains of those who use marijuana may be smaller to begin with, for unknown reasons.
"It could be nutrition, it could be stress exposures, it could be a lot of different things," said Dr. David Goldman of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Another study found that cannabis use at a younger age by those who already have a high risk of schizophrenia might not be a good idea.
"Our findings suggest that cannabis use might interfere with the maturation of the cerebral cortex in male adolescents at high risk for schizophrenia," wrote the researchers from the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto.
So what does all this mean?
"It's probably more a story of what we don't know than what we do know," said Dr. Goldman.
Oh, okay, got it.
Research will continue and more will be found out about just exactly how cannabis affects the brain. In the end, however, we all agree that younger teenagers shouldn’t be smoking weed anyway. While it’s better that they experiment with marijuana than just about anything else, most teens are simply not mature enough to handle being high. They should be worried about school and boyfriends/girlfriends and wasting time on Facebook.
Most states that legalize in the US are going to set the legal age at 21 and someday that might even be the federal standard, so much of this “What about the kids?” discussion is moot. Regulation will make cannabis less available to kids because, as everyone knows, drug dealers don’t check ID.