Does cannabis affect memory?

The controversy over the benefits and possible disadvantages of using cannabis is unlikely to ever subside

There are upbeat cannabis lovers and activists who vouch for the medicinal properties of cannabis, but there are also pessimists who never tire of pointing out its many side effects and the so-called “addiction threat.”

A lot of research has already been done, and it will continue around the world, on the effects of cannabis on human health, especially memory.

However, neither scientists nor the medical community were able to come to a final decision on this issue.

A lot has been said about the ability of cannabis to improve or impair memory.

How does marijuana work on the brain?

In general terms, human memory is divided into two sections: long-term memory and short-term memory. Current events are stored for some time in short-term memory, and long-term memory is intended for long-term storage of information.

There is a theory that cannabis use can temporarily affect and even distort short-term memory. The data collected shows the potential for cannabis to affect short-term memory.

A similar condition can be caused by chemical compounds in the plant that affect neural signaling.

These compounds, interacting with the endocannobinoid system in the human body, can disrupt short-term memory and lead to problems with concentration. This is most often observed in adolescents and young people.

Early research into the effects of marijuana on memory

While cannabis can affect short-term memory, things aren’t all that bad.

Many early studies have highlighted the potential for cannabis to have beneficial effects in people with neurodegenerative diseases.

Animal studies have shown very clearly the ability of cannabis to slow down the development of such diseases.

The apparent inconsistency of such effects, according to experts, is caused by the presence of two different compounds in the plant – CBD and THC.

It turned out that these two compounds have fundamentally different effects on the human body.

Hence, eating any food high in THC can exacerbate memory problems.

In turn, foods with a high concentration of CBD can counteract these problems.

More recent research on cannabis

A number of recent studies point to the opposite results. Judging by them, it is difficult to argue that only the use of marijuana can lead to psychosis. It depends on the type of cannabis chosen or its ingredients.

Important reasons:

  • Some cannabis users who complain of memory problems also drink alcohol. In this situation, it is impossible to say which of the two factors is more influencing the loss of memory, and which enhances the influence of the other.
  • Earlier research points to cannabis drinkers who are coping with memory problems based on information from other users. Some of them may have provided inaccurate information. This, too, cannot be ruled out.
  • Sometimes such problems are caused by the dosage and frequency of the herb. A user of cannabis often and in high doses is more likely to have more memory problems than someone who uses cannabis in moderation.
  • Cannabis use affects people of different age groups in different ways. Teens and young adults may well experience memory impairment after heavy cannabis use. But the opposite effect occurs as soon as they start to abstain from the herb. The same may not be true for people over 50.


The question of memory impairment after cannabis use remains open.

More in-depth research is needed.

One thing is certain: the key to safety is moderate cannabis use.

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