The whole cannabis memory-loss debacle is as cliché as it is downright hilarious. It’s something the vast majority of seasoned stoners simply accept as something that cannot be avoided. Which is precisely why many go so far as to actually celebrate and embrace it.
But while most accept the fact that poor memory and cannabis seem to go hand in hand, few understand any of the science behind it. So if you’ve ever wondered what exactly the deal is with cannabis and memory loss, you might find the following insights at least a little…well, insightful!
The Short-Term Effects of Cannabis on Memory
Research has shown that in terms of short-term memory loss, THC has two completely separate yet contributory effects on the brain. The first of which is increasing difficulty with encoding memories in the first place. While excessive alcohol consumption often leads to blackouts, with stoners it’s more a case of memories not being formed/logged in the brain in the first place. Along with this, recalling short-term memories both during and after cannabis consumption is made more difficult by the effect THC has on the brain.
So as you can see, it’s a completely different story to the way in which heavy alcohol use simply wipes huge chunks from your memory. Just as with most of the effects associated with THC, research also suggests that those who use cannabis on a regular basis are less likely to experience memory related issues than others. What’s more, it’s also become clear in a variety of studies that the short-term memory impairment associated with cannabis use is itself short-term in nature. Usually in the region of 24 to 48 hours after consumption, things go back to normal.
Plus there’s no evidence to suggest that getting as high as it is possible to get has any impact whatsoever on existing memories. Or to put it another way, it’s borderline impossible to get so high that you will forget where you live or what your name is.
The Long-Term Effects of Cannabis on Memory
When it comes to the long-term effects cannabis can have on memory function, evidence is somewhat contradictory. On one hand, some studies have brought to light evidence to suggest that heavy use of cannabis over a period of at least five years could have a detrimental impact on verbal memory recall. Nevertheless, any number of studies have also suggested that there is no correlation between cannabis use and long-term memory issues of any kind. In addition, the studies that have highlighted a potential link have done so in a manner that is hardly earth-shattering. Or in other words, the apparent memory impairment of those considered to be heavy cannabis users was minor enough to be considered largely insignificant.
But what makes it even more interesting (not to mention rather confusing) is the way in which more recent studies have suggested that cannabis could in fact help protect memory. Not just on a rudimentary basis, but to such an extent that medical cannabis is being highlighted as a possible preventative treatment against dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Insufficient research is being carried out to draw any real conclusions, but it is nonetheless becoming clear that CBD in measured doses can actually have a protective effect on certain regions of the brain.
In one study for example, the use of CBD products or high CBD strains was found to reduce alcohol-induced cell death in the brain by up to 60 percent. So for the time being, the truth about cannabis in terms of its potential benefits and long-term effects on the brain remains something of a mystery. On the plus side, stoners can sleep soundly knowing that whatever it is they are doing to their memory capacities, it pales in comparison to the damage done by binge drinking. That’s one of the things we do conclusively know for sure!