The teenage brain is still a work in progress. Between the teen years and the mid-20s, areas of the brain responsible for judgment and problem solving are still making connections with the emotional centers of the brain. Smoking marijuana may derail this process and so increase a young person’s vulnerability to psychotic thinking. (You can read more about how the adolescent brain develops in this article from the Harvard Mental Health Letter.)
While the research on marijuana and the mind has not yet connected all the dots, these new studies provide one more reason to caution young people against using marijuana—especially if they have a family member affected by schizophrenia or some other psychotic disorder. Although it may be a tough concept to explain to a teenager, the reward of a short-time high isn’t worth the long-term risk of psychosis or a disabling disorder like schizophrenia.