UK and Canada researchers said they had found "robust" evidence showing using the drug in adolescence increased the risk of developing depression in adulthood by 37%.
They said the findings should act as a warning to families who saw cannabis use as part of the growing-up process.
The team added that the developing brain was particularly susceptible.
The researchers - from University of Oxford and Montreal's McGill University - said cannabis use in the young was an "important public health issue", particularly given that cannabis available today tends to be much stronger than it was previously.
Around one in nine young adults and teenagers use the drug each year in England and Wales.
Report author Prof Andrea Cipriani conceded some parents had a relaxed attitude to the drug, but added the evidence was clear.
"This is important information for parents and teenagers. The risk is modest, but it can have a devastating impact."