Columbia University Medical Center

Young Brains on Drugs: More Research Needed

The effect of marijuana on the adolescent brain is an essential piece of information missing in the debate over legalizing the drug, says Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, chair of psychiatry and immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association.

“Much is known about the effects of recreational drugs on the mature adult brain, but there have been no serious investigation of the risks of marijuana use in younger users,”

writes Dr. Lieberman, in a Science editorial co-authored with Robert DuPont, MD, president of the Institute for Behavior and Health.

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Jeffrey Lieberman, MD

Marijuana use is linked to anxiety and psychotic disorders, but the biological underpinnings are still a mystery, the two add.

Rigorous research is needed, and Drs. Lieberman and DuPont propose that the NIH launch a long-term study that would follow pre-teens from adolescence into adulthood to see if marijuana use changes brain function or behavior.

Read the full editorial at Science Magazine.

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