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Study: Unlike Booze, Pot Isn't Bad For The Teenage Brain

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It looks like weed, unlike booze, is not bad for the teenage brain, according to a recent study.

Neuroscientists at the University of California, San Diego studied the brains of 92 teenagers by scanning their brains over time, according to the Huffington Post. Half of the group, which already had some experience with marijuana and alcohol, was ordered to abstain or go easy on the substances for about 18 months. The other half continued smoking and drinking in varying amounts. The teens were subjected to toxicology tests before and after the study and were interviewed every 6 months about their substance use during the study. Researchers compared brain scans before and after substance use (or abstention).

Researchers found that booze had an obvious effect on the brain that weed did not. Teens consuming five or more drinks at least twice a week showed reduced white matter brain tissue health. The white matter brain tissue of teens only smoking weed, in some cases up to nine times a week, didn't suffer at all.

Researchers were paying attention to white matter brain tissue health, because it continues to develop all the way into adulthood. A loss may mean a decline in memory, attention and decision-making in later adolescence and adulthood, said the study's co-author Susan Tapert, a neuroscientist at UC San Diego.

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This can hurt teens later on down the line, said Joanna Jacobus, postdoctoral fellow at the UC San Diego: "It becomes a cycle. If teens decrease their tissue health and cognitive ability to inhibit themselves, they might become more likely to engage in risky behavior like excessive substance use."

The researchers said we need more studies on how weed affects teens, especially given that more teens are toking up and believe the drug is harmless.

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