Health Consequences for Youth Using Cannabis

While we still have a lot to learn about the physical, emotional, and mental health consequences of underage cannabis use, we already know enough to know that there are real health concerns with using before the brain is developed. It’s important for you to learn some of these concerns so that you can help young people understand some of the risks they could be taking by using cannabis. For more information, you can check out this resource from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


Cannabis can be addictive. It’s harder to stop using cannabis if you start at a young age. Youth who start using cannabis, alcohol or other drugs — even occasionally — may be more likely to continue using later in life.

Learning & Memory Loss

Youth who use cannabis regularly are more likely to have difficulty learning, memory issues, and lower math and reading scores. The more cannabis youth use, the harder it may be for them to learn. And the effects can last weeks after quitting.

Mental Health

Cannabis use increases the risk of developing long-term mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression. This risk is even higher when there is a family history of mental health disorders. Using cannabis as a teen and frequently using increase these risks.


Using products with THC, the chemical in cannabis that causes a high, decreases the amount of time spent in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is when you dream, commit things to memory, and process emotions.  

Interrupting your REM sleep can make it harder to form memories and for your brain to generate new cells.  

Lower Athletic Performance

Cannabis smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, which are not healthy for lungs. Cannabis can impact a teen’s ability to learn new skills, even weeks after they last used. Cannabis can also affect athletic performance and coordination.

Brain Development

Brain development is not complete until about age 25. Cannabis use before the brain is fully developed causes physical changes to the brain, which can impact attention, memory, problem solving, and social skills. For the best chance to reach their full potential, it’s best for youth to not use cannabis. For more information on how THC can affect brain development visit Let’s Talk Cannabis.