A new study indicates that adolescent boys who use marijuana on a weekly basis may be at heightened risk for subclinical symptoms of psychosis. Alarmingly, these symptoms appear to persist, even after a year of abstinence from the drug.
According to a recent article published on ScienceDaily, researchers at the University of Texas say that the age at which adolescents using marijuana can alter the typical course of brain development, compromising brain structures that are responsible for higher order thinking.
“Our study provides definitive evidence that in heavy cannabis users, there is a detectable deficit of striatal dopamine release using an amphetamine challenge,” said Dr Weinstein. “Within the striatum, the subdivisions seem to have a different pattern, in contrast to reports of other substance abuse. And our exploratory analysis suggests that the deficits we are seeing in dopamine release in the striatum have a functional significance — that lower dopamine release is associated with lower working memory and learning performance.”