Daily marijuana use has dangerous implications for youth

Daily marijuana use has dangerous implications for teenagers, despite the common misconception that the drug is harmless.

In 2013, a survey of B.C. youth in grades 7 - 12 shows 15% of them used pot in the previous month

Daily marijuana use is especially dangerous for youth because their brains are still developing, according to a report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Daily marijuana use has dangerous implications for teenagers, whose  brains are still developing, says the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which is hosting a panel discussion in Vancouver on this topic Friday.

And misconceptions that marijuana is harmless are dangerous, because Canadian teenagers have among the highest rate of cannabis use compared to other developed countries, the researchers say.

"We want to shine some light on the problems without starting a controversy," said Michael Krausz, a UBC psychiatry professor who will be speaking at the panel. 

"We really want to help youth make informed decisions."

The federal government has said it is looking into legalizing marijuana, but with strict rules to keep it out of the hands of children and youth.

Marijuana effect on youth report

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse outlined the risk of frequent marijuana use for youth last year in their report, The Effects of Cannabis Use During Adolescence.

One in six teens who use pot will either become addicted, or will develop a cannabis-use disorder, according to researchers.

"They're at increased risk of experiencing deficits in cognitive functioning — so aspects of the brain involved with memory, decision making, impulse control, executive functions," said Amy Porath-Waller with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Daily marijuana use also has implications for teenagers' mental health.

"There's an increased risk associated with early and frequent cannabis use and onset of psychotic episodes."

Fifteen per cent per cent of youth in grades seven to 12 said they'd used cannabis in the previous month according to a 2013 B.C. adolescent health study.

With files from Belle Puri