What are the real effects of using marijuana when you’re young? I’ve seen a lot of conflicting info.

It’s true there’s a lot of contradictory information out there on the health effects of marijuana—especially on teens. It makes sense that you’re a bit confused, and you’re not alone!

Because teen brains are still developing (they won’t be fully “grown” until you’re 26!), using marijuana may change how they develop. Studies have linked teen marijuana use with lower IQs, short-term memory problems and mental health conditions.

But another study suggests that these effects are temporary. And it’s unclear whether using marijuana causes mental health conditions or whether young people use marijuana because they have a mental health condition.

The truth is that we just don’t know the long-term impact of using marijuana when you’re a teen.

However, we are more certain of some negative short-term effects. Here are some things we DO know about marijuana:

  • It affects your memory and ability to learn, concentrate and make decisions. This makes it much harder to do well in school, especially since the effects last for several days. If you smoke marijuana on Saturday night, you may have trouble studying for and taking a test on Monday.
  • Marijuana also affects balance, coordination and movement. This means you should definitely not drive while you’re high, or get into a car with someone who’s high.
  • It also means that using marijuana can affect how well you play sports or do other physical activities.
  • Some people use marijuana to deal with uncomfortable emotions (like stress, anger, sadness or loneliness) or mental health conditions (like anxiety and depression). Even though using marijuana may make you feel better in the short-term, learning healthy ways to cope and take care of your mental health will help you more in the long-run.
  • Like other drugs or activities that make you immediately feel good, it’s possible for young people to become dependent on marijuana. This means you may have trouble quitting, or choose marijuana over friends, family and other activities that you enjoy.
  • Marijuana may be legal for adults in several states, but it’s illegal for people under 21 everywhere. If you’re caught with marijuana, you may face legal consequences.

If you’re 10-22 years old and have more questions about marijuana or being your healthiest self, you can make a free, confidential appointment at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center for non-judgmental healthcare.