From the States and some European nations making it legal to stars making it mainstream, marijuana seems like less of a big deal every day. But don’t let the fuzzy stuff fool you—when you take a hit, so does your body.
As the stoner world marks Four Twenty (it’s also Adolf Hitler’s birthday BTW), we just wanted to fill you in on some 411 about the real dangers of smoking weed that most avoid talking about. “What’s 420?” I hear you asking.
420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term that refers to the consumption of weed & by extension, as a way to identify oneself with the weed-smoking subculture. Observances based on the number 420 include smoking bhang around the time 4:20 p.m (16:20) on any given day, as well as smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date April 20 (4/20 in the warped U.S. date format).
Back to the hidden dangers of smoking week.
Update: New research shows that the effects of pot are even worse for teens than we previously thought: Scientists now believe that marijuana causes developmental changes to the part of the brain that controls motivation and decision-making, and that the impact is long-lasting. Even scarier, studies have also shown that teens who are dependent on pot before the age of 18 and continue to use the drug lose an average of eight I.Q. points by the time they’re 38.
Sure, you’ve heard that getting high can increase your appetite (and who needs more help polishing off a bag of chips?), but it can also have seriously scary effects on young brains. THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana, may interfere with a process called pruning that happens in your teens and early twenties—a crucial time of development when experts say the brain is most vulnerable. If you’re smoking pot, the process can be disrupted, and your brain may not form in the optimal way, meaning you’re setting yourself up for decreased cognitive function and impaired memory.
Aside from possibly disrupting brain development, there’s a chance of bringing on mental illness, too. According to medical experts, people who have blood relatives that are prone to psychosis can have a more extreme reaction to cannabis than other people. Even scarier? There’s also a possible link between teens who smoke pot and an increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia, says David Sack, M.D., CEO of Promises Treatment Centers, where Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan have reportedly gone to rehab.
So, happy 420 day? If you can remember what that is tomorrow