Public perception Does THC Actually Improve Memory?
Public perception of recreational and medical cannabis has come a long way since the days of Reefer Madness. Even in the 420-friendly 60s (not that the term 420-friendly existed then), a legal cannabis delivery business was unthinkable. Today, cannabis is not just for the counterculture. There is even Beverly Hills marijuana delivery. It is widely accepted that using cannabis to relieve nausea and a lack of appetite is safe. Meanwhile, opinions about the effects of cannabis on other symptoms are more mixed. What about the effects of cannabis on memory?
THC: The Active Ingredient in Cannabis
Cannabis contains dozens of cannabinoids, chemicals that bind to the reward centers of the brain. The brain also produces similar chemicals, called endocannabinoids, on its own. THC stimulates appetite and can cause feelings of euphoria and relaxation. It can make ordinary pleasures, such as food and music, seem even more pleasurable. As a stimulant, it can also cause feelings of restlessness.
The Effect of Cannabis on Memory
One of THC’s effects on the brain’s reward centers is to prevent the formation of new unpleasant memories. Sometimes it also prevents the formation of new, neutral memories, too. Therefore, people who have used a lot of cannabis in their lifetimes have worse memory function than non-cannabis users. It most strongly affects short-term memory and spatial memory. Cannabis does not, however, destroy memories formed when the user was not under the influence of cannabis.
The younger a person is when he or she begins using cannabis, the more pronounced the effects on memory. People who begin using cannabis as adolescents may have memory problems later in life.
While cannabis may make it easier to eat and to relax, it does not make it easier to remember. Especially with long-term use, it may even impair memory.