How Smoking Weed Harms Memory and Why that’s a Problem

A great deal of research is being done on the effects of marijuana on the brain and its development. We have known for some time that the human brain does not finish developing until around the age of twenty-five, so there was little doubt that smoking marijuana before that development was complete would for good or bad, change the way the brain works. One of the ways that the brain changes from chronic marijuana smoking at an early age is memory impairment.

Medical Daily explains how this memory impairment works.

The cannabinoids in marijuana, like THC and cannabidiol (CBD), have the ability to exert their influence by monitoring how cells communicate — send, receive, or process messages. When THC enters the body it gets into the brain and attaches to the cannabinoid receptors, where it overwhelms the endocannabinoid system in the brain. This throws your neurons out of balance and slows down communication between cells and impairs working memory.

On one hand, this means that those who smoke marijuana will have memory difficulties throughout their lifetimes. On the other, memory impairment may help those who have troubling memories find freedom from them.

In the first case:

This study weeds out the doubt of whether marijuana affects memory function and cognitive control. It adds to recent growing research published in the journal that found adults who smoked marijuana regularly as teens were more likely to have memory problems in life.

In other words, regularly smoking marijuana as a young person creates irresolvable memory problems later.

Other research indicates that those memory problems could help people with disorders like PTSD.

While smoking marijuana can impair memory, it can help people forget bad memories. A 2002 study published in the journal Nature found the natural chemicals similar to the active ingredient in marijuana can wipe out traumatic memories. To do so, researchers say, the body’s innate cannabinoids flood the amygdala — the “fear center” of the brain — and inhibit the action of nerve cells.

Before you pull out the bong too quickly, there are much better therapies for PTSD than smoking weed till you can’t remember your own name! If you have PTSD, get help. If you’re under 25, know that smoking marijuana regularly will cause a lifetime of memory impairment. Before you light up, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”


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