Taking cannabis in your mid-20s damages cognitive development, NIH expert warns

Taking cannabis regularly in your mid-20s can cause permanent damage to the brain and its legalization in some states has wrongly suggested to many that it is safe, the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has told DailyMail.com.

Dr Nora Volkow, who has led the agency for almost two decades, warned that cannabis use among young adults was a ‘concern’ and called for more ‘urgent’ research into the ‘potential health risks’ for the age group.

Her agency — which is part of the National Institutes of Health — revealed Monday that a record number of 19 to 30-year-olds were using cannabis in 2021, with one in ten admitting to using it every day. Around 30 percent used the drug at least once a month, with four-in-ten having used the drug at least once last year.

Numerous studies have warned that regularly using cannabis can harm brain development — which continues into the mid-20s — and that repeated users are more likely to struggle socially and face career and relationship problems. 

But it is now only fully illegal in just four states — Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina and Wyoming —, with 19 approving it for recreational use and nearly every state already giving it the green light for medicinal use — typically to treat chronic pain.

Experts warn that legalizing the drug has led to it gaining acceptance in recent years, leading more people to try it. Stress from the COVID-19 pandemic has also driven up the number of people using it.

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