Increase in Marijuana Use and Loss of Memory: The ‘Blunt’ Truth

Marijuana has been a hot subject of debate in many forums and studio apartments for many, many decades, and recent research developments have shown that the trend of medical and recreational use is on the rise. Based on analysis of adults that admit to using in the past year, marijuana use has risen to 9.5 percent. 23 states have made grass legal for medical use, and 4 for recreational purposes. It goes without saying that drug use is on the rise in college campuses across America, and with stress levels in college students also heading for the roof, university life is conducive to student s experimenting with ways to reduce stress. However, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Can partying or consistent use of marijuana- even with medical intentions-affect performance and memory?

Cannabis has an effect on the human brain that conjoins with the way the mind learns naturally, thereby affecting declarative memory.

Cannabis has an effect on the human brain that conjoins with the way the mind learns naturally, thereby affecting declarative memory.

In a study that monitored the effects of heavy smokers that displayed signs of schizophrenia, 90 percent of them had heavily used before being diagnosed. Marijuana tends to have both a detrimental affect on the hippocampus (or a part of the brain that deals with long-term memory and spatial navigation), deforming it and/or affecting memory if consistent and heavy use of cannabis begins early enough in life. In a study conducted for the purpose of analyzing long-term memory performance by teenagers that use cannabis, the subjects in the test population had begun to use marijuana around 16 years of age, and at the time of the study,as per requirement of the procedure, each subject had been grass-free for two years, so as to further limit the amount of variables with each user. 97 subjects in total were asked to listen to a series of stories for a minute, then to recall as much as possible 30 minutes later. The findings of the study revealed that the test subjects who had begun use at 16-17 did 18 percent worse than the percentage of the test population that had not used at all. In addition to the variable of user vs. non-, subjects diagnosed with schizophrenia had also performed 26 percent worse than those who had schizophrenia and not used the drug at all in their lifetime. The effect of early use has not yet been linked between a deformed hippocampus and memory loss, which is important to note because it highlights the difference between early use exclusively causing both the deformation and the memory loss, or one causing the other, etc.

I would say these studies are well done, because they analyzed performance in individuals with more than one variable that the use of marijuana was able to manipulate in a way through analyzing the data compared to subjects without a history of use or signs of schizophrenia. This study is applicable to the university environment because stress levels can fluctuate in all students independent of majors and years of study. Mental health is just as important as performance in school, but perhaps drugs like marijuana could have harmful repercussions that don’t justify a way to relax for students willing to take the risk. The United States still has much to make up its mind about in terms of the effects of this drug, and there is more testing that needs to be done to more precisely analyze how cannabis affects the way human memory functions, especially if use begins in the still formative years of the brain. Students need to reduce stress, but maybe this isn’t the most effective idea.

http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/22362-college-students-use-of-marijuana-on-the-rise-some-drugs-declining

http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2013/12/marijuana-users-have-abnormal-brain-structure–poor-memory.html

http://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/marijuana-use-more-than-doubles-from-2001-to-2013-increase-in-use-disorders-too/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150312082906.htm

2 thoughts on “Increase in Marijuana Use and Loss of Memory: The ‘Blunt’ Truth

  1. pxw5127

    I have actually heard that this can happen before I read this blog post. It makes me wonder, like you said, if the consequences outweigh the positives of marijuana use. This study was definitely well conducted and considered third variables. However, I think that there could also be many other third variables For example, how often they smoked, genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, previous memory capabilities. So as you can see, there are various variables that could effect this study. I think the findings do show a correlation between marijuana use and memory loss, but it has yet to be proven how strong of a link it is. I think that it is very important that researchers begin to further examine this topic. It could definitely affect advances for marijuana use in the future. I would like to see the studies take participants from a wider range of backgrounds, like age, gender race, etc, to make their results more accurate. Thank you for sharing this awesome blog!

  2. das5959

    I agree with the conclusion of your post. I also agree that that was a very well conducted study. You bring up a very valid point, where do you draw the line? I agree college is stressful. and sometimes you just gotta cut loose. Too much partying though leads to poor grades, and therefore more stress. There must be a happy medium between the two. I also didn’t know until I read your article that smoking heavily from a young age leads to brain disabilities. I wonder if teenage marijuana use is on the rise in teens?

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