And in teens that drop is irreversible.
“There’s a significant reduction in
general functioning,” Dow-Edwards
says. “In teens, their maximum lifetime
potential is diminished. They will not
reach maximum potential because THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that
causes most of marijuana’s psychological
effects) impairs it.”
Other potential side effects include
a two-fold increase among boys and
men in the risk of depression and a
five-fold increase in the risk for girls
and women. Marijuana can also trigger
anxiety in some people, especially
during withdrawal (some people smoke
marijuana because they feel anxious).
The drug has also been found to increase
the risk of psychotic disorders by 40 per
Marijuana-induced abnormal brain
function in teens, Dow-Edwards says,
can place greater demands on parents,
families, teachers, healthcare providers
Few teens (and parents and caregivers)
fully understand the risk of marijuana
use. Which is why Dow-Edwards is
taking her knowledge to high schools
and communities across Alberta.
“Only one in four adolescents see
smoking pot as risky,” she says. “Kids
don’t see it as dangerous.”
Dow-Edwards adds that one in five
teens who experiment with marijuana
will become dependent on (or addicted
to) the substance. Stats show that adults
who begin smoking pot before age 15 are
six times more likely to be dependent on
other illicit drugs than those who began
using marijuana after the age of 21.
A study released by UNICEF in
2014 found Canadian teens use more
marijuana than any other developed
country: 29 per cent of 15-year-olds
reported using pot.
Dow-Edwards says reducing the rate
of pot use among teens is a matter of
education. And Drug Free Kids Canada.
org says parents can be effective teachers.
The organization’s website notes:
“Most parents are surprised to learn that
they are the most powerful influence on
their children when it comes to drugs.
But, it’s true, so this message needs to
start with parents.”
It’s time to clear the air, she adds. Both
teens and parents need to realize the
heavy pot smoking during adolescence
can impair brain function, mood and
For more insights on marijuana, visit
Few teens (and adults) fully
understand the risks of marijuana