Is Long-Term Cannabis Use Linked to Cognitive Decline and Anxiety?


The long-term use of cannabis and its impact on cognitive abilities remains a topic of significant debate. Recent studies suggest that prolonged cannabis consumption may lead to a decline in IQ and deficiencies in learning and processing speed. In contrast, others argue that cannabis, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), might have therapeutic benefits, such as reducing anxiety.

According to a Harvard Health study, long-term cannabis users experienced an average IQ decline of 5.5 points from childhood. This decline was more pronounced in frequent users, suggesting a potential causal link between cannabis use and cognitive impairment. However, the role of cannabis in anxiety disorders presents a more complex picture. While some individuals use marijuana to alleviate anxiety and panic attacks, others find that it exacerbates these conditions.

Is Long-Term Cannabis Use Linked to Cognitive Decline and Anxiety?

An analysis by Cornell University also highlights the varying effects of marijuana on behavior. While CBD, a compound in cannabis, is thought to help quell anxiety, the overall impact of marijuana, which contains various substances, can lead to short-term problems with thinking, working memory, executive function, and psychomotor skills.

Despite these concerns, many people turn to cannabis for its perceived benefits. For instance, at medical marijuana evaluation clinics in California, a substantial number of patients reported using marijuana for anxiety relief. However, the effectiveness of cannabis in treating anxiety is still up for debate, as noted in a report from the University of Washington.

Adding to the complexity, a study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that a marijuana-like chemical in the brain, 2-arachidonoylglycerol or 2-AG, can have both positive and negative effects. This substance, which is similar to marijuana’s psychoactive component, can calm epileptic seizures but also poses risks.

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Overall, while the potential benefits of cannabis, particularly in treating certain conditions, are acknowledged, there is still much uncertainty surrounding its long-term effects on mental health and cognitive abilities. More research is needed to provide conclusive evidence and guidance, especially in the context of evolving legal landscapes and societal attitudes towards cannabis use.

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