Marijuana and Your Memory

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Photo Credit: Leaf Science

Those who discourage marijuana use argue it impairs your memory, but how bad are marijuana's effects on memory? When cannabinoids like THC enter the bloodstream and continue on to the brain, they interact with the endocannabinoid system which can indeed alter memory function. THC interacts with CB1 receptors, which can be found in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for processing and storing memories. Marijuana use makes it difficult to form new long-term memories, but it does not impair the ability to recall already existing memories. Long term users also perform worse on tests of working and verbal memory. Research is still unclear on whether these effects are permanent or if they can resolve over time when abstaining from use. 

While memory impairment is generally seen as negative, this isn't always the case. For example, those who suffer from PTSD may have negative memories that produce anxiety, hypervigilance, panic, and distress. Because of this, they could benefit from the endocannabinoid's ability to extinguish these memories, something that can be facilitated by marijuana use. 

The relationship between marijuana and memory is complex, and there is still so much to be understood about how different factors, like the cannabinoid composition, dosage, and one's genetic makeup or tolerance, can influence this relationship. This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical officer.