Teen Marijuana Use Shown to Cause Disabilities Later in Life

teen with difficulties in life

Smoking pot while you’re young is no big deal, as long as you quit it when you grow up, right? If you used marijuana when you were a teen, why should you stop your own child from doing the same? A recent study has demonstrated that simply is not the case. The study was conducted by researchers in Sweden, and it examined factors relating to men who had smoked pot when they were 18 years old, with particular focus on those who had been heavy users.

Did the study find that using marijuana as a young adult didn’t carry any serious consequence for these people later in life? On the contrary, it demonstrated that people who use cannabis at a young age are predisposed to suffer problems in their adulthood. Specifically, the researchers found that the study subjects were more likely to be found on disability by the time they reached the age of 59, compared with their peers who weren’t heavy pot smokers.

To complete the study, the researchers examined data collected over a period of 39 years and comprehending a large sample of the male population. It focused on Swedish men who were born between the years 1949 and 1951, and who entered compulsory service in the military in the years 1969 and 1970. It was the fact of these men being conscripted into the armed forces that provided the opportunity to gather information about such a large sample of subjects, including around 50,000 men. At the time of their conscription, they were required to answer questions about their use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, and this questioning supplied the data which formed the baseline of the study. The researchers grouped the men into categories according to whether they had used pot never, 1-10 times, 11-50 times or more than 50 times, and were then evaluated to see how things turned out for them later in life.

Why Does Marijuana Use at a Young Age Cause Problems Later?

The frequency with which the young men had used marijuana was found to correlate with their problems as they grew older, according to data acquired from Swedish governmental agencies including the social insurance department, education records, and statistics about the labor market. More of the pot smokers were found to end up receiving disability benefits than their peers. This was true not merely by a small margin, but by a major gap that leaves no room for equivocation. The young men who admitted to having used marijuana more than 50 times before their 18th birthday were later found to be 30% more likely to end up on a disability pension in their middle age.

The researchers admitted that the correlation might not be one of cause but could be more circumstantial, given that young people who smoke pot heavily may be more likely to suffer from other issues that would predispose them for problems later in life. Even when factoring in these variables, however, the link between heavy cannabis consumption and disability was demonstrated to be a consistent one. The takeaway from this study is that smoking pot as a young person simply is not safe. The long-term effects of cannabis consumption can be life-changing and can have far-ranging implications.

One reason for this is that the brain of a young adult does not finish growing until around the age of 25, so using marijuana at a younger age can cause permanent changes to the brain’s wiring. Furthermore, using drugs as a young adult establishes habits and patterns that will tend to set the stage for a lifetime of substance abuse, with all of the physical and mental problems that come with it. Why take chances with your future?



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.