Weed hits different when you’re a teenager. Knowing how marijuana affects your developing body and brain can help you stay safe and healthy as you grow up.

Research suggests that regular marijuana use makes it harder to focus, learn and retain new information, and these side effects can last weeks after you’ve stopped. So if you’re trying to ace that test or get your grades up, marijuana might get in the way.

Not only can marijuana make it harder to learn, but getting caught with weed can get you in serious trouble at school. A suspension or expulsion from school can make it harder to graduate on time or get the grades you need for your next step.

Getting high can cause you to lose interest in the activities you typically enjoy, and it hurts your performance in sports and the arts by impairing your coordination, movement and reflexes. Plus if you’re caught with weed, you might be disqualified from participating in the sports, clubs and extracurriculars you love.

Smoking marijuana in any form can cause throat and lung irritation and coughing. It can impact your ability to breathe comfortably and deeply, keeping you from performing at your best on the field or on stage. Vaping is especially harmful and has been associated with over 2,000+ cases of lung injuries that have resulted in hospitalization and even death.

Think of your brain as a work in progress— it’s constantly building new connections crucial to your growth and development. When you get high as a teenager, your brain’s development is interrupted. The long-term impacts of marijuana on the growing brain are still being studied, but research suggests that weed can have lasting effects on memory, learning and intelligence.

In the short term, marijuana affects your decision making and judgement. When you’re high, you are more likely to do something dangerous like get in the car with someone who is driving under the influence or have unsafe sex. It can also affect your ability to ask for or give consent.

Marijuana interacts with your brain chemistry in a way that can leave you feeling depressed, anxious or paranoid. And if you’re already suffering from depression or anxiety, it can intensify those feelings of stress, sadness and irritability. Some studies have even found a link between marijuana usage and psychosis. It can cause hallucinations and unpredictable behavior that put you and others at risk of harm.

You can develop a dependence on marijuana, and some people use it as a crutch to avoid dealing with hard feelings and situations. If you are struggling, it is critical that you address the problem and ask for help. You can talk to your school counselor or call The Addiction Center of Broome County at 607-723-7308.

Marijuana can be expensive, especially if you develop a habit.

Driving high or riding with a high driver can be deadly. And if you get a DUI, you could lose your license and pay thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. Never get in the car with a driver who has used marijuana in the last six hours always discourage those who have been marijuana from driving.

Depending on your employer, using marijuana can get you fired from your job or prevent you from getting hired in the first place. While a marijuana high may fade quickly, THC can be detected by a routine drug test for up to 90 days.