What are the TRUE effects of cannabis on memory?

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.

snlThe 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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6 thoughts on “What are the TRUE effects of cannabis on memory?

  1. Julia Hall

    This blog is interesting because it is such a hot topic. I agree with your conclusion that weed does not effect your memory and concentration skills. However, I feel like the more you use weed the more it effects you. The people that I know that smoke alot of weed tend to be a little spacey and slow (when I first met them and they weren’t smoking they were not like this). But I guess it also depends on if those people are using other drugs. Granted I don’t know that, but assuming that they just smoke weed, I have noticed changes in those that smoke alot.

  2. Mia Rose Del Nunzio

    Your blog was very interesting because it challenged the common thoughts that others have about marijuana and its effects. Most people who don’t smoke (me) think that weed is horrible for you and has a lot of different side effects that can hurt people in the long run. Your blog cleared this up, and it was very interesting to read. The positive information that you stated in your blog can correlate to the act of many states legalizing marijuana and becoming less strict on the uses of the drug. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Kristen

    This blog was very interesting especially since marijuana is a hot topic in the news regarding the 2016 presidential candidates and their opinion on legalizing marijuana. Additionally marijuana use is always following us as students in college. I definitely think more research needs to be done regarding the effects of marijuana on people. I particularly found the claim that marijuana helps Alzheimer patients. Does marijuana just ease pain or does it physically help cure the effects of Alzheimers? According to a blog from alzheimers.net, “A preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that very small doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical found in marijuana, can slow the production of beta-amyloid proteins, thought to be a hallmark characteristic and key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s.” http://www.alzheimers.net/6-15-15-effects-of-medical-marijuana-on-alzheimers/ If this is the case, it seems that marijuana definitely could have a breakthrough as a healthy treatment rather than its current views as an abused drug.

  4. Kendall Nicole Higgins

    This sounds very scientific, but I am still a bit skeptical. How do cannabis and the neurotransmitter bridges help short-term memory, long-term memory, and concentration? Your blog post makes rational sense, but I think you could have enhanced your credibility by discussing scientific studies that have been done on the subject to back up your conclusion. This study says that chronic long term marijuana use in adults actually does result in a lower IQ, but it improves the brains “connectivity.” You should check it out!

  5. Holly Rubin

    I don’t think it’s necessarily that cannabis directly effects your memory. Rather, I think that it may effect the maturation and development of the part of your brain that are directly related with memory. The relationship between the two may not be causal, but could include a third variable, brain development. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, exposure to THC before birth, soon after birth, or during adolescence leads to problems with learning and memory later in life due to cognitive impairments. These cognitive impairments are associated with structural and functional changes in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the brain’s center for emotion and memory. So, cannabis use may lead to loss of memory due to lack of development in the hippocampus later on in life.

  6. Michael Bliss

    This post is very useful for addressing misconceptions that are present in the political arena currently. It is important for us to look at the practical uses for this information. You have identified that this is helpful to Alzheimer’s patients. But is there any way regular cannabis use could be practical? Also, what other effects does cannabis produce that could hinder or increase performance of the mind? It is also important that you pointed out evidence that negative effects from long-term use are reversible.

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