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Teen Marijuana Use Might Have Lasting Effects on Mood, Anxiety
Date:12/23/2009

ensitive to both drug use and related stress, given that this is the pre-adult period during which the brain and its neurochemical composition undergoes extensive reshaping and reorganizing.

To assess the role cannabis may play on adolescent brain development, for 20 days -- a period characterized as "prolonged exposure" -- adolescent rats were given daily injections of either a low-dose (0.2 milligrams/kilograms) or high-dose (1.0 milligrams/kilograms) of cannabis. For comparison, a group of adult rats underwent a similar regimen.

Following cannabis exposure, both the adolescent and adult groups went 20 days drug-free to allow the effects of drug withdrawal to dissipate, as well as to allow for a wide range of cognitive testing to gauge the long-term effects of cannabis exposure on task execution and mood.

The authors noted that by the conclusion of the 20-day waiting period, the previously adolescent rats were effectively adults.

The team found that chronic exposure to cannabis during adolescence does appear to provoke abnormal emotional activity into adulthood, typified by the onset of depression, poorer social interaction, heightened anxiety and increased stress.

What's more, Gobbi and her colleagues also found a drop in serotonin levels in the adult brain following either low- or high-dose adolescent ingestion and an increase in norepinephrine levels following high-dose exposure.

Rats who had already reached adulthood when chronically exposed to cannabis, however, appeared to experience far less of the detrimental emotional reactions found among adolescent rats. Indeed, adult rats, they observed, seemed to be able to readily cope with, and even overcome, most of the neurological impairments that arose as a result of cannabis exposure.

"We were a little bit surprised by our findings because we didn't expect to see such a strong effect on the adult brain from adolescent usage. It was a very sig
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