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Does Cannabis Use Affect Your Long-Term Memory?



Have you ever noticed that cannabis use makes you forgetful? This is a topic we figure it is time to discuss. Does smoking cannabis affect your long-term memory?

The character of the forgetful stoner has been used in comedy for years. The story of the silly stoner forgetting their food in the oven and burning it. Or, forgetting what they were just talking about in the middle of a conversation. Perhaps these examples are exaggerated. But, these things do happen now and then.

Photo from: Stuff Stoners Like

Occasional Cannabis Use & Memory

Okay, so you smoked a joint and forgot something cooking in the oven, that happens to everyone. Perhaps it is not right to blame the joint, or is it?

With cannabis use, it is quite common to have short-term problems with thinking and working memory. THC within cannabis is psychoactive, meaning it does have an intoxicating effect on the brain.

This is because marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical, THC, causes its effect by attaching to receptors in brain regions that are vital for memory formation, including the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex. 

Harvard Medical School

In the short-term, these “forgetful” effects do not last long. Usually, after your brain is only in the elevated state for a few hours; depending on the potency and the individual’s tolerance level. If the individual is a regular smoker, there is research pointing to some long-term effects on their short-term memory.

Regular Cannabis Use & Memory loss

The odd joint here and there is not going to cause any long-term damage to your memory. However, smoking weed every day and night might. The exposure to THC on a regular basis may deteriorate parts of the brain.

Deterioration of the hippocampus is what causes age-related memory loss, and THC appears to accelerate this process. Rats that received THC every day for eight months lost as many brain cells in the hippocampus as rats twice their age

– According to National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The effects of cannabis on short-term memory for regular cannabis users have been researched in the past. However, this information could be biased and considered anecdotal evidence since the substance was illegal at the time.

Modern Research on Cannabis & Memory

Modern research for this theory is just beginning. This year, the American Psychological Association conducted research on the cognitive effects associated with regular cannabis use. Unfortunately, their findings were nonconclusive.

Despite research advances, it remains unclear if long-term, regular cannabis use harms cognition once intoxication has passed.

– American Psycological Association

Even though there has been research indicating long-term use may have negative effects on memory, nothing is for certain. In most cases, a break from cannabis can allow memory function to return to normal. It seems the long-term effects of cannabis use were exaggerated. To better understand how cannabis use affects long-term memory loss, further research needs to be done.


Episode 3 of our very own “Ask An Expert” series on Youtube covers this topic.

Do you think regular cannabis use can cause long-term memory problems? Or was this theory just a hoax? Let us know in the comments below and follow @cannalifenet for more cannabis content!


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