Although medicinal cannabis is now being legalized in many states and increasing numbers of medical professionals are acknowledging its many advantages for patients suffering from a wide variety of conditions, many people who could benefit from its use are reluctant to give it a try because of some of the negative connotations associated with it.

One of the causes for concern surrounding medical cannabis use is the worry that it may affect the user’s memory and cognitive abilities. Marijuana users are frequently portrayed as being forgetful, and this stereotype has led to a number of misconceptions. While marijuana does have an effect on memory when used occasionally, the impairment is only temporary, with no lasting damage being caused.

Longer term use could possibly cause longer lasting changes to the memory, however these may not be permanent.

Crucially, the effect that marijuana can have on memory depends on a number of factors including the amount and frequency of consumption, the strain being used and its CBD and THC levels and also genetic factors of the user.

Strain – CBD is thought to help protect the user’s memory by reducing the impact of THC on the body

Dose – using large amounts of marijuana over an extended period is more likely to result in memory problems
Genetics – the individual make up of an individual’s genetics may have an effect upon marijuana’s impact on their memory

An Overview Of Memory

The human memory can be divided up roughly into three categories:

Sensory – the sensory memory holds information temporarily from the five senses.

Short term – sometimes known as working memory, short term memory holds information for around 30 seconds while filtering out the unnecessary information.

Long term – long term memory is more permanent and includes your memories of facts, procedures and past events.

Short term memories become long term memories when emotions are connected with them, or when they are repeated regularly, however long-term memories can fade if they are not repeated regularly.

Does Marijuana Impact Memory?

When using marijuana, the chemicals it contains enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to the brain where they activate the body’s endocannabinoid system, altering memory function. This results in both short and long-term effects.

Short Term

Immediately after using marijuana, users experience short term memory impairments and find that they are temporarily unable to form any long term new memories, but they have no problems in recalling their existing memories. Once the effect of the cannabis has worn off, the impairments wear off too.

Long Term

People who use marijuana in the long term perform more poorly on verbal and working memory tests even when the effect of the drug has worn off.

They continue to have problems with recalling words and retaining information, however it is, as yet, unknown whether the effect is permanent or whether the memory function will return to normal eventually since studies carried out on the subject have contrasting results. This suggest that some users may have different long-term reactions to others.

The Effect On PTSD And Negative Memories

For people who have experienced traumatic events, their negative memory system may go into overdrive, causing PTSD, a condition which results in anxiety, panic and distress triggered by flashbacks.

Medical cannabis can help to extinguish those troublesome memories to alleviate the condition.

Final Thoughts

Although studies have shown that occasional marijuana users display some impairments in their short-term memory and also in the formation of long term memories, these effects wear off rapidly once the user sobers up again. Heavy users, on the other hand, may experience longer term effects.

In terms of medicinal use, however, the many benefits outweigh the temporary impact on the user’s memory and can lead to a much better quality of life for patients. If you think that you are suffering from a health condition that could benefit from medicinal marijuana, call Cannapproval to Pre-Qualify for Medical Cannabis.

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