Effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain

Curr Pharm Des. 2014;20(13):2186-93. doi: 10.2174/13816128113199990426.


This article reviews neuroimaging, neurocognitive, and preclinical findings on the effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain. Marijuana is the second most widely used intoxicant in adolescence, and teens who engage in heavy marijuana use often show disadvantages in neurocognitive performance, macrostructural and microstructural brain development, and alterations in brain functioning. It remains unclear whether such disadvantages reflect pre-existing differences that lead to increased substances use and further changes in brain architecture and behavioral outcomes. Future work should focus on prospective investigations to help disentangle dose-dependent effects from pre-existing effects, and to better understand the interactive relationships with other commonly abused substances (e.g., alcohol) to better understand the role of regular cannabis use on neurodevelopmental trajectories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cannabis / toxicity*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / drug effects
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroimaging