JUL 21, 2020 8:30 AM PDT

Teenage Cannabis Use Affects Girls More than Boys

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers from the University of Montreal, Canada, have found that cannabis affects the working memory of girls at high school age more than their male counterparts. The researchers warn that this may hinder both their academic success and their memory in adulthood. 

Conducted across 31 high schools in the Greater Montreal area, the researchers administered surveys and neuropsychological tests to assess the memory and cognitive performance of over 3,826 students in relation to their use of cannabis and alcohol. Collecting data every year for five years, they were able to follow a cohort of students from start to finish of their high school careers. 

In the end, the surveys demonstrated a gradual increase in alcohol and cannabis use from Grades 1 to 5 in both boys and girls. While alcohol consumption was not associated with significant cognitive and mnemonic decline, cannabis use portrayed another story. Although the researchers found a decrease in performance among boys and girls during tests, they found especially significant differences in spatial working memory among girls who started using the substance at the beginning of high school. 

"Working memory, which involves the ability to process and store information over a short period of time, is related to the prefrontal cortex," says Patricia Conrod, lead author of the study. "This is the last region of the brain to develop in adolescents, but this development occurs earlier in girls than in boys."

"Several studies have shown that early marijuana use affects the maturation of the prefrontal cortex, and our results corroborate them: girls who report using cannabis in early adolescence show a deficit in working memory by the end of high school compared to girls who used later."

The researchers also note that, according to Statistics Canada's 2018 data, students who smoke cannabis are 2.3 times more likely to drop out of high school than those who do not. Although the reasons behind this are not fully known, given the seemingly damaging effects cannabis has on developing brains, the researchers say more must be done to prevent early use of the plant. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewsFrontiers in Human Neuroscience

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use Disorder in Pregnancy Linked to Infant Health Problems
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Use Disorder in Pregnancy Linked to Infant Health Problems
Researchers have found that babies born to mothers diagnosed with cannabis use disorders at delivery are more likely to ...
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Home Genetic Tests That Can Tailor the Best Cannabis Strains for You
APR 22, 2021
Home Genetic Tests That Can Tailor the Best Cannabis Strains for You
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is claimed to be as individual as our fingerprint or iris, with different cannabis ingr ...
JUN 02, 2021
Health & Medicine
THC Is More Important than CBD in Soothing Nausea
JUN 02, 2021
THC Is More Important than CBD in Soothing Nausea
There’s a prevailing view that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) part of cannabis is just for fun — bringing th ...
JUN 10, 2021
Health & Medicine
Medical Cannabis Use Correlates with Reduced Cigarette Use
JUN 10, 2021
Medical Cannabis Use Correlates with Reduced Cigarette Use
  Here’s a bonus effect of using medical cannabis — you’re more likely to give up smoking accordi ...
JUL 08, 2021
Health & Medicine
Past Cannabis Use No Longer Barrier to Joining FBI
JUL 08, 2021
Past Cannabis Use No Longer Barrier to Joining FBI
Without trumpet or fanfare, the hard line recruitment policy the FBI had held around cannabis use has been changed to be ...
SEP 23, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Cannabis- A Quality of Life Question
SEP 23, 2021
Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Cannabis- A Quality of Life Question
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a term used to describe chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. In gener ...
Loading Comments...