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Do you remember feeling invincible as a teenager? When you are young, it is easy to feel like nothing can hurt you. You are young, so you can basically do anything you want and recover, right? Everybody has to be a little crazy at some point. But while you might be young and careless, you definitely aren’t invincible. And that thought of being invincible just comes with the immature brain of a young teen. The reality of it is that the choices you make while you are young do matter. In fact, they can go on to affect you even in your later years and a new study talks about just that.

A new study done at the University of Montreal found that when it comes to smoking cannabis, it does matter how young you start. Researchers found that boys who started smoking marijuana before the age of 15 are much more likely to have a drug problem at the age of 28, compared to those who started at or after age 15. So, in this scenario, even just a year or two can make all the difference. Boys who started smoking prior to age 15 had an increased risk of developing a drug problem of 68 percent. In comparison, boys who started smoking between 15 and 17 had a 44 percent risk, according to the researchers’’ study.

This study just further demonstrates the importance of educating kids from a young age about the dangers of smoking marijuana, and especially the dangers of smoking it at a young age. This is especially important in areas where the legalization and public acceptance has led to a greater potency.

“The odds of developing any drug abuse symptoms by age 28 were reduced by 31 percent for each year of delayed onset of cannabis use in adolescence,” the researchers at UdeM’s Department of Psychology, School of Psychoeducation and the CHU Saint-Justine Hospital Research Centre found.

This is why cannabis is often referred to as a “gateway drug.” When teens started smoking marijuana, it might be the only drug they are involved with. However, as time goes on they are more and more likely to try something else. It could be because they are looking for more of a thrill, they are more likely to be exposed to it, or simply because they just view drugs in a different light now. Regardless of the reason, research has shown that early cannabis use does often lead to the use of other drugs. Keep your children informed of the dangers in order to protect them.