A study at UC San Diego showed that regular weed-smoking is not likely to do any damage to a teenager’s brain, though drinking alcohol is. Researchers separated a group of 92 people aged 16 to 20 into groups of drinkers/smokers and abstainers, then monitored their health over 18 months.

Those who had at least five drinks twice a week were found to have significant damage to their brains’ white matter,which may cause memory and attention span loss later in life, while those who smoked the most weed–up to nine times a week–were not. “One reason is that marijuana can really vary,” said neuroscientist Susan Tapert. “Different strains contain different levels of THC and other marijuana components. For example, some studies have suggested one component, cannabidiol, may actually have neuroprotective effects.”

Of course, the study’s results will have to be repeated before its findings can be verified, but researchers believe their findings were valuable. “It is clear that more research is needed into the long-term effects of marijuana on the brain,” said Tapert. “Especially because use is up.”

(Photo: Potimus Prime)