The effect of cannabis on the human brain is a hot topic. One of the primary functions of the neurons in our brain is to store and recall information. Technically, our memory includes sensory, short-term and long-term memory.
Sensory memory very briefly stores sensory experience-related details before passing it to the short-term. Short term memory stores whatever we’re doing at any given time. Long-term memory stores important information taken from short-term memory.
Effects on Adolescents, Adults and Long-Term Users
Recent research on the impact of the cannabinoid drug (WIN 55,212-2) on mice shows that long-term marijuana use impairs memory and learning abilities.
However, according to the research, the medication may help in re-establishing equilibrium in patients with multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. The findings of this study, published in July 2018, have become a much-debated topic. One of the objections to the study is on the choice of drug for the experimentation. WIN 55,212-2 is not a product obtained from the cannabis plant: it’s a synthetic product whose effects resemble those of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Studies involving human subjects show varied results. For example, a 2012 study shows that persistent marijuana dependence decreases IQ. The decrease in IQ was much greater in subjects who became marijuana users as adolescents as compared to those who started when they were adults. Also, the negative effects were apparent even after the adolescent users stopped smoking marijuana.
In contrast, 2016 twin studies on marijuana use in adolescents suggest that a drop in IQ may not be directly linked to marijuana use. Instead, familial factors may be the reason behind the decline. Researchers found that those who wouldn’t use marijuana in the future already had higher general cognitive abilities and verbal memory scores than those who would. Also, in twins, there wasn’t a considerable decline in IQ in the user compared to the non-user.
Effects on Short-Term Memory
Cannabis users may find it challenging to recall experiences while, and for a duration after, they’re under the influence. According to research, the effects on memory will depend on the type of cannabis. The researchers concluded that memory impairment and cognitive impairment would be more significant in products with higher Δ9-THC content and lower CBD content.
We will be continuing this topic in an upcoming article that addresses how CBD may actually improve memory.