(Good Things Utah) Marijuana use is a gray area for many in Utah, with more research still needed to definitively decide. Though, everyone agrees that it can harm gray matter in a young brain. Overall, this misuse at a young age can lead to reduced coordination, impaired memory, problem-solving, learning, and more. Heavy use underage can also have long-term effects on the brain’s development.

“Any kind of substance that you’re introducing into a youth’s brain is a potential risk,” says Heather Lewis, Disorder Prevention Coordinator with Gray Matters. “There are hundreds and hundreds of studies that say the pre-frontal cortex is affected by underage misuse.”

According to Heather, parents need to sit down with their children and discuss use at a young age. Some studies indicate that parents play a huge role in whether or not youth will misuse substances. By opening up and being honest with them about concerns, and explaining the lasting effects on developing brains, parents can better help their children understand the risks involved.

It’s also crucial to listen. Hearing them out and gaining insight into their thoughts, feelings, and opinions can go a long way to ensure it doesn’t become a lecture or argument. Also, sharing science-based facts about the issue works far better than disputing its morals or legal repercussions.

Heather adds: “There are legitimate reasons for being prescribed cannabis. But if you’re not prescribed, don’t mess around with it.”

Gray Matters is an organization helping spread awareness about the risks of underage substance misuse, while also providing parents with important information and resources.

To learn more, go online to GrayMattersUtah.org

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