Western researchers aim to reverse adverse effects of early marijuana use

Researchers at Western University have studied the use of pharmaceuticals to reverse the harmful effects of THC on young brains.
Western University researcher Steven Laviolette is part of a team that studied how certain pharmaceuticals could reverse the adverse effects of chronic adolescent marijuana use. (Hala Ghonaim)

Scientists have long established that marijuana may be harmful to adolescent brains.

Chronic pot use at a young age has been linked to psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia later in life for some adults.

But researchers at Western University in London say they may have found a way to reverse marijuana's negative effects on the brain.

"One of the major problems associated with schizophrenia is the loss of a chemical called GABA," said Western University researcher Steven Laviolette, in an interview with CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive.

"Following adolescent THC exposure, there's the exact same thing, a loss of GABA in the brain."

After exposing adolescent rats to high doses of THC, Laviolette's team waited for the rats to reach adulthood before giving them pharmaceuticals that boosted levels of the GABA neurotransmitter. 

"To our amazement, we found that this reversed those schizophrenia-like symptoms."

According to Western, the research team's next steps will examine how combinations of cannabinoid chemicals with compounds that can boost the brain's GABA system could serve as a more effective treatment for mental health disorders, like addiction and anxiety.

Hear the full interview below.