Since its ban in the early 20th century, cannabis has become a hotly contested topic. From your friends, to your parents, and even your PE teacher, it seems like everyone has an opinion on the subject. I’m sure if you’ve ever been lectured by your parents or forced to sit through a state-mandated marijuana education program, you’ve most likely heard the phrase, “Marijuana makes you forgetful”, or “Weed makes you slow, or “Damn, that loud got you stupid, son”. Today, we’re going to be examining what effects the drug known as Cannabis has on your long-term memory, short-term memory, concentration skills, etc.
The cannabis flower, produced by the plant, is laden in a natural defense-coating known as trichomes. These trichomes appear as small bubbles on the surface of the plant. What these “bubbles” actually contain is a thin vapor composed of over 83 cannabanoids and several hundred terpenes. When marijuana is burnt, these trichomes burst and the vapor is expelled. Once ingested into the body, this vapor interacts with our natural endocannabanoid system. Our endocannabanoid system is made up of millions of CB1 and CB2 receptors in our muscles, brain, liver, and almost every other part of our body. These CB1 receptors are responsible for pleasure, appetite, concentration, perception of time and memory, pain tolerance, and many other physiological and psychological phenomena. Naturally, the introduction of cannabanoids into these receptors alters many of these functions.
As it pertains to memory and brain function, the cannabanoids bind to the CB1 receptors and form a neurotransmitter between regions of the brain. During the time, the cannabanoids are active in one’s system there is no negative impairments in terms of brain function. Once the neurotransmitter bridge has dissolved, the neurons in these areas have a harder time jumping between synapses. This causes the slower neuron transmissions that critics refer to as being “slow” or “stupid”. However, due to recent advances in the medical field, including brain mapping technology, we have been able to learn more about the interactions between the brain and these receptors. When under the influence of cannabis, the neurotransmitter bridges that are formed actually help short-term and long-term memory recall, as well as concentration. It is after the drug has made its way out of one’s system that users tend to experience a “burnt out, withdrawal” like symptom. After all this time is spent using the nerotransmitter bridge neurons have trouble jumping between synapses as they used to.
in conclusion, marijuana actually has positive effects on one’s short-term memory, long-term memory, and concentration skills. However, long term sustained use can burn these bridges and cause minor memory loss and concentration issue. Studies show that this effect is only temporary, and shows signs of reversal after two weeks abstinence. Additionally, cannabis’ effects on memory have shown to alleviate Alzheimer’s patients whose neurons are unable to jump from synapse to synapse. The bridge built by the cannabanoid receptors allows Alzheimer’s patients’ neurons to jump synapses where they previously would be unable to.
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