There is much anecdotal evidence of cannabis use causing memory loss and various impairments. However, the key word in that phrase is ‘anecdotal,’ as a unified body of research on this subject is currently lacking.
Some suggest that these memory loss nightmares are meant to scare youngsters off, reducing the number of stoners and improving the nation’s health. Others point to serious clinical studies and claim that cannabis has a proven association with memory problems.
So, where is the truth on this subject? We’ve collected scientific evidence from different sources to give you a better idea of the memory risks you take when folding another fatty.
A Closer Look at Memory
When we talk about memory, we mean long-term and short-term aspects thereof. Short-term memory is about a recall of recent events, while long-term memory is your permanent storage of data without restrictions. It may contain childhood memories, takeaways from a last-year conference, or this Sunday’s evening film.
The brain processes information and finds a slot for its storage. Our thoughts, events, and experiences find their way to the memory via neural signals. But when you smoke weed, the process of neural signaling is disrupted, with cannabinoids binding to memory receptors and making them busy with other tasks. Thus, people remember things worse and spend more time recalling data while high.
Cannabis, Memory, and Recall: What Science Says
Research has been negative about the effects of weed on memory and recall so far. Here are a couple of studies that caution against adverse effects of cannabis use:
- The study of Solowij et al. held in 2008 discovered impaired encoding, storage, manipulation, and retrieval mechanisms in the long-term memory of stoned participants. The effects were associated with various cannabis use patterns, not relating to acute intoxication.
- Battisti et al. discovered poorer recall and dysfunctional subsequent memory effect (SME) activation in regular cannabis users. Longer history of cannabis use resulted in greater deficits in memory recall.
- Wagner et al. also found cannabis to affect people’s verbal memory in their 2010 research. Still, the researchers associated the intensity of that effect with the age of the first try, weed use duration, and use frequency.
- However, Miller and Braconnier turned the academic community’s attention to the role of the cholinergic limbic system in mediating cannabis-related cognitive changes. These researchers published a study in 1983, suggesting that the impact of cannabinoids is similar to that of antimuscarinic drugs.
However, more recent research by a team in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that it’s not cannabis overall but rather its chemical composition that determines the strains’ effect on the user’s memory.
- THC is primarily responsible for memory impairments, as it may cause anxiety and paranoia together with a euphoric effect.
- CBD, in turn, blocks THC’s dangerous effects and can produce a calming, concentrating effect on the human brain. Thus, smoking weed with CBD exceeding 0.75% causes no memory impairment or recall problems.
Another study also revealed that THC contained in cannabis could remove Alzheimer’s plaque from brain cells, thus helping achieve more optimal brain functioning for patients.
Low-Risk Strains with Minimal Memory Effects
Which strains are a safe choice for those wishing to minimize the risk of memory impairment or poor recall? Here is a list of recommendations from the pros:
- Martian Candy Strain is weed a relaxing memory enhancer
- Lucid Blue – a CBD-rich focus boost
- Sour Breath – a concentration potion with up to 1% CBD
- Cannatonic – a cognitive function improver
Therapeutic Cannabis Use for Memory Problems
The impact of weed on neural signaling and memory is well-documented and mostly adverse. But the world is not only black or white; there is a reverse side of the medal with weed’s brain effects. For instance, the soothing, uplifting, and relaxing effect of weed has found broad application in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
These diseases are chronic and incurable, but cannabis helps alleviate the associated discomfort. Depending on the strain choice, patients may achieve better relaxation, stimulate cerebral functions, and avoid disease-associated depression and anxiety.
Regular and intense weed consumption puts your memory’s quality at risk. Your neural signaling stops working properly as the brain receptors bind to cannabinoids instead of doing the effective data processing job. Still, though it may seem counter-intuitive, weed indeed improves focus, alertness, and memory in some instances.
It all depends on the proper strain choice. It is not just a matter of Sativa vs. Indica choices; the studies show that the percentage of THC and CBD affects the degree of impact your fatty will have on your memory. So, choose the strains cautiously if you have memory concerns. It’s better to hand-pick CBD-rich strains to protect your memory receptors without refusing yourself the pleasure of smoking a joint or two.