Drug abuse: Is marijuana the biggest problem we have?

The American Academy of Pediatrics published a report on recreational marijuana use among kids under the age of 18. Researchers tried to answer questions like: Will the newest wave of changes in USA law regarding marijuana abuse make things better or worse? How does marijuana affect kids’ brain development? These are important questions. However, one tempting question is, whether the effects of marijuana abuse on kid’s development is rightfully the theme of biggest concern in the context of scientific research and politic discussion – and should it be?

The research that we already have, indicates, that regular or heavy marijuana use is bad for kids’ brains. But is marijuana really in the focus of research nowadays? We’ve looked at numbers of publication about effects of different drugs on brain development.

Marijuana abuse

On above graph we can see that the major part of research describing the relationship between drug abuse and brain development is dedicated to alcohol abuse. The second place belongs to effects of cocaine on young brain and on the third place is tobacco. Marijuana is on the fourth place with 131 publications since 2000. The dominant position of research on alcohol and tobacco abuse shows, that there is a dissonance of focus between scientific community and legislators. While the first group invests it’s research efforts in the internationally relevant and increasingly serious problem of alcohol and tobacco abuse, politicians in their debates are much more concerned about casual marijuana users, compared to heavy smokers or alcoholics.

As seen on figure below, the frequency of citations for all of these keywords are rising at comparable rate.

citations marijuana

USA with 346 publications is the country with the biggest number of publications on marijuana abuse in adolescence by far. Other countries like Canada and Brazil published just 5 publications each. For more statistics on marijuana abuse by adolescents click here.

In Scicurve, it is really easy to find out who is the author that drives the scientific endeavour in certain research topic. The highest number of publications about effects of drugs on development of adolescent brain comes from author Susan F. Tapert and her contributors. Click on a graph to find out more.

Susane Tapert