There are plenty of stereotypes surrounding the use of cannabis. One widespread and alarming belief is that smoking cannabis can harm your short-term memory. That stereotype can discourage people from using cannabis to treat their health conditions.
The truth about cannabis and memory is much more complicated than pop culture makes it seem. It’s true that smoking cannabis can impact your ability to remember things. However, scientists are divided on why and how long this effect lasts. Here’s everything you need to know about the state of cannabis memory research and how using cannabis can affect your memory.
Cannabis and Memory: How They’re Connected
The brain is your most complex organ. One of its most important jobs is storing memories. Everything from events like your high school graduation to individual words and concepts is kept in your memory. The process of storing new information and retrieving old knowledge is complicated. Anything that affects your brain can also affect how well you remember things.
For example, a night of bad sleep makes it harder for your brain to remember things. So does drinking alcohol or eating a poor diet. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that using cannabis products can affect your memory.
The psychoactive compound in cannabis, THC, can directly affect how your brain forms memories. That’s because THC binds to receptors in the memory-forming part of your brain. The THC winds up blocking some of your natural neurotransmitters. Without those chemicals, your brain is less efficient at storing and retrieving information.
The Short-Term Effects of Cannabis on Memory
Scientists are only just beginning to study the effects of cannabis use on the memory. That means that there’s only so much reliable information on the subject. Most current studies focus on how short-term cannabis use affects memory since that’s relatively simple to measure.
These studies look at the impact of cannabis on memory during and just after use. Essentially, they want to learn what happens in your brain at different doses of THC and how long those effects last.
It’s become clear that using large amounts of cannabis can affect your short-term memory. While high doses of THC are in your body, your brain can struggle to create new memories. You’re more likely to forget things you learn while using cannabis. You may also have trouble remembering things since your brain can’t retrieve information as well.
Some studies suggest that these effects can last for several weeks after you last used cannabis. However, it appears that this is only the case if a person regularly and frequently consumes large amounts of THC. This may be because your body adjusts to having lots of THC in your brain and stops producing as many neurotransmitters. Going a few weeks without using cannabis products seems to be enough to return your memory to normal.
There may be more to THC’s short-term effect on memory, though. New studies suggest that low doses of THC may actually help improve memory in certain people. As people age, the brain stops producing as many neurotransmitters and brain cells. Current studies suggest that low doses of THC can actually make up for this loss of function. While more studies need to be done, this is a good sign for older adults who want to protect their memory.
The Long-Term Effects of Cannabis on Memory
Science understands even less about the long-term effects of cannabis on memory than it does about the short-term impact. The problem is that there just hasn’t been enough time to perform many longitudinal studies about it. A longitudinal study tracks people over years and decades. Without that kind of long-term tracking, scientists can’t be sure that their data is trustworthy.
There are a few early studies that have been done on the subject. The results are complicated. People who start using cannabis as adults don’t seem to have permanent long-term effects on their memory. Heavy users generally have worse memories than light users and non-users, even when sober. However, several weeks of abstinence is enough for adult-onset users to recover their normal memory.
That’s not the case for younger people. Currently, science suggests that people who start using cannabis as adolescents are more likely to experience permanent memory problems. Teens who smoke cannabis frequently were more likely to test poorly on memory and processing even after abstinence. The current hypothesis is that because adolescent brains are still developing, they may permanently adjust to high THC levels in ways that adult brains don’t.
However, it’s not clear whether these results are caused by cannabis or other lifestyle factors. More importantly, other studies contradict these results. Still, it’s probably a good idea for adolescents to avoid regular cannabis use anyway.
The Future of Cannabis and Memory Research
As cannabis becomes more accepted nationwide, it’s becoming easier for scientists to study it. That’s good news for the state of knowledge about cannabis products and memory. Since more people can legally use cannabis, scientists will be able to design more robust studies for both short- and long-term cannabis use.
These studies will likely focus on the long-term impact of cannabis on memory. However, they will still take decades to produce trustworthy results simply because of the subject matter. Other topics of study will probably include:
- The effects of different doses of THC
- The impact of regular and irregular cannabis use
- The actual impact of cannabis on adolescents
Learn How Cannabis Affects You
Cannabis feels a little different to everyone. The amount you use, how often you use it, and your age all influence whether it will impact your memory. The best way to find out how cannabis affects your memory is to try it for yourself. That’s why you should explore VidaCann’s Florida dispensaries.
Whether you want to try a low-THC strain to ease yourself into cannabis or you know exactly what you like, VidaCann has what you need. You can look for your preferred products online or at in-person dispensaries throughout the state. As the best dispensary in Florida, VidaCann offers excellent service and suggestions for users of all experience levels.