How does cannabis affect youth?

Perhaps due in part to New Zealand’s unregulated cannabis market, marijuana can be found in just about every college in the country. In fact, as many as 80 per cent of young people have used cannabis at least once before the age of 21, according to the University of Otago. Furthermore, approximately 1 in 10 will develop a pattern of heavy dependent use.

These figures are concerning for a number of reasons:

  • The human brain continues developing until around you reach around 25.
  • Young people who are regular marijuana users are more likely to experience difficulty when dealing with everyday classroom skills such as learning and remembering.
  • Young cannabis users are more likely to receive lower scores on maths and reading tests.
  • Despite the widespread belief that marijuana is not addictive, many people do develop a dependency on the drug. The risks of doing so are particularly high if you start using cannabis at a young age.
  • The use of cannabis at a young age is associated with abusing substances such as alcohol, tobacco and other illegal drugs later in life.

What’s the bottom line here? While marijuana does offer a range of medicinal benefits for adults, young people should minimise their cannabis use in order to let their brains fully develop.