Marijuana damages adolescent brains, health professionals write in op-ed

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Two health professionals penned an op-ed in The New York Times on Sunday that despite society’s shift on marijuana use, it does not change the fact that the drug is not safe for high school and college students.

Kenneth L. Davis, the president and chief executive of the Mount Sinai Health System, and Mary Jeanne Kreek, the head of Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Rockefeller University, cited studies that show a “deleterious impact on cognitive development in adolescents.”

The column said marijuana use can impair “executive function, processing speed, memory, attention span and concentration.” They said the explanation is simple: the adolescent brain is still vulnerable “especially the prefrontal cortex.”

“The chemical in marijuana responsible for producing mood elevation and relaxation, THC, interferes with the exchange of information between neurons,” they wrote in, “Marijuana Damages Young Brains.”

Davis and Kreek penned the column in response to New York and New Jersey considering legalizing marijuana for those over 21.

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“States that legalize marijuana should set a minimum age of no younger than 25,” they wrote. “They should also impose stricter limits on THC levels and strictly monitor them. Educational campaigns are also necessary to help the public understand that marijuana is not harmless.”

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