How Does Marijuana Affect Memory and Cognitive Functions?


Marijuana and Cognitive Functions

Despite Harvard Health’s acknowledgment of the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids like CBD, it’s apparent that marijuana does have short-term impacts on memory, thinking, working memory, executive function, and psychomotor function.

Interestingly, however, it’s not without contention that long-term cannabis use could result in a notable decline in IQ, as highlighted by a Harvard Medical School blog, where a decrease by 5.5 points on average from childhood was documented alongside learning and processing speed deficits. It’s suggested that the more frequent the cannabis use, the more significant the cognitive impairment, implying a possible causative relationship.

Nevertheless, this perspective is not universally accepted as conclusive, considering the varying qualities of the studies and the challenges in isolating cannabis use from other factors influencing cognitive health. For example, the rising prevalence of cannabis use among older adults, as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests a societal shift towards acceptance, which may introduce biases in self-reporting and difficulty in long-term study follow-up.

Concurrently, there’s research, such as that from the Salk Institute, pointing towards cannabinoids’ potential in removing plaque-forming Alzheimer’s proteins from brain cells, which hints at a complex relationship between marijuana and cognitive health, particularly in the context of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Further complicating the narrative, anecdotal evidence from individuals who experienced the ’60s suggests lower rates of Alzheimer’s among marijuana users, as mentioned by Ohio State Insights. This is complemented by studies focusing on cannabinoids as potential pharmacotherapies for Alzheimer’s disease, as detailed in a review by the University of California, Irvine.

To further cloud the issue, the legal distinction between marijuana and hemp lies in the THC content, which is tied to the intoxicating effects, as stated by Harvard Medical School. This raises questions about the specific components of cannabis that may contribute to both potential cognitive decline and therapeutic effects.

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The narrative, then, is not one-sided. The dialogue around marijuana’s effects on memory and cognitive function remains nuanced, with ongoing studies likely to provide more definitive answers in the future. Until then, a degree of skepticism and the need for further research persist.

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