News and Trends

New Study Will Gauge Pot's Effect on Teenage Brains

Researchers at UC Irvine receive $9 million to better understand how cannabis impacts young people.
New Study Will Gauge Pot's Effect on Teenage Brains
Image credit: Aaron Tilley | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Easy Search. Quality Finds. Your partner and digital portal for the cannabis community.
3 min read
Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most agree that cannabis has an impact on those who start using it in their teenage years. But the exact nature and extent of that impact remains a subject of debate.

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine hopes to answer some of these questions by focusing on the effect of marijuana specifically on the teenage brain.

In addition, researchers will investigate the underlying molecular activity that cannabis causes in the brain.

The study has the potential to both offer medical insights into the use of cannabis and to influence public policy. At the very least, it will be the first time in the U.S. that such an extensive study has been completed.

Related: Canada Makes Marijuana Farmers Eligible for Government Agriculture Programs

Cannabis and the Brain

The research is being funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Together, they have awarded the UC-Irvine School of Medicine $9 million over four years to conduct the research.

The stated goal is to measure the “long-term impact of cannabis exposure on the adolescent brain,” according to a news release from UC-Irvine. The research will focus on how THC, the active ingredient in marijuana related to the “high” feeling, affects endocannabinoid (ECB) signaling in the brain, as well as synaptic plasticity and behavior.

But the scientific benefits of this study are not the only potential positive outcome. Researchers hope that the results may give policymakers -- and voters -- a scientific basis for making more informed decisions about the legalization of marijuana, which is still banned on a federal level. 

Related: The Cannabis Industry Is Going Global Without Waiting for America to Legalize

The Role of EBC

The study will also examine the interaction between marijuana an EBC, molecules in the brain that govern such areas as emotions, learning, and memory. The NIH sponsored a previous study that found a connection between EBC activation, a lack of sleep, and obesity rates.

In the news release from UC-Irvine, Daniele Piomelli, a doctor, and professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the school said: “The ECB system is the main point of entry of THC into the brain.

“Now that cannabis is legal in many states, it’s very important to understand whether excessive activation of this signaling system during adolescence can produce alterations in cognition and motivated behavior that last into adulthood."

Previous studies have indicated an increase in the amount of marijuana used in the U.S. in the past decade, as well as the number of people who have associated “disorders” involving abuse of cannabis.

By understanding the molecular activity generated by pot, UC-Irvine researchers hope to get closer to understanding how marijuana interacts with the brain. That could open the door to methods for helping those with marijuana-related issues, as well as provide a better understanding on just how cannabis impacts thinking and behavior.

Follow dispensaries.com on Instagram to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news.

By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
Learn More

Latest on Green Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any article to save to your queue.

Podcasts episodes coming soon for GreenEntrepreneur.com

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to Queue next to any podcast episode on Entrepreneur.com to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). The table below describes in more detail the data being collected. By giving your consent below, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Cookie Policy.

Name Category
Google Ad Serving, Ad Targeting, Analytics/Measurement, Optimisation
Rubicon Ad Serving
Teads Ad Serving
Nativo Ad Serving
Teads Ad Serving
New Relic Analytics/Measurement
Log Entries Analytics/Measurement
Sailthru Content Customization