*With the recent legalization of marijuana in several US states, the use of the plant-based drug has gone mainstream. Cannabis infused products seem to be popping up everywhere in the form of snacks, drinks, oils, and baked goods all over the US. Marijuana vape pens and pre-rolled joints are also quite popular among main-stream cannabis users. Depending on the demographics of the individuals, excessive use of the drug could impact the long-term memory health of marijuana smokers.
*Since the year 2000, the percentage of Americans who support the legalization of marijuana has nearly doubled. Among those Americans who do agree with the use and legalization of the plant-based drug, millennials make up about 70% of those individuals and a majority of that 70%, are Democrats under 40 years of age. The majority of cannabis users are between the age of 25-29 years old and according to statistics, more males are buying weed than females. Some might find it surprising to learn that now that the drug is marketed and prescribed as a pain killer, people over the age of 65-years-old, are a lot more interested in using it. In 2016 people between the age of 65-95 made up around 2% of pot smokers but now they make up about almost 4%. Slowly but surely, the Baby-Boomers are becoming more accepting of cannabis-culture.
*Although pot smokers and cannabis users in most states are no longer breaking the law, there are some concerns about the long-term effects of the drug as it pertains to memory-loss. There are many ways to sharpen and improve the memory, including but not limited to getting good quality rest, maintaining a healthy level of physical activity, Interacting and socializing with peers, staying active mentally and physically, and taking time to get organized. These tactics to prevent memory loss are recommended for every-day people, but how does cannabis impact the memory of its users and are these tactics relevant for people who smoke/ use the drug on a regular basis?
*According to recent studies, the cognitive abilities of users were much lower than those of non-users/smokers. These studies also observed that the longer people used the drug, the worse their memory became. Cannabis users performed very poorly in tests that involved memorizing lists of words and/or numbers and the results were even worse among those who had been smoking cannabis for over ten years. These results are based on studies done with people age 17-49 and those who had experimented with other drugs (cocaine, heroine, etc…) were not permitted to participate in this test. Studies have found that even occasional use of marijuana changes and alters the density and the shape of the two regions of the brain. It also alters the shape of the cells and the nuclei that are responsible for decision making and emotions. This is an explanation for the reason some pot smokers feel un-motivated and un-inspired.
*Although memory loss is quite detrimental, there are other long-term health risks attributed to marijuana use. Some of these include decreased reaction times and motor skills, even among those who only smoke a couple of times a week. Smoking cannabis has some negative impacts on the memory, however, some sources claim that it actually prevents brain cancer and that it is a pro-active preventative tactic against brain diseases and disorders. The cannaboids found in marijuana do posses healing qualities, but these benefits are more measurable when consumed in the form of CBD oil, as the body processes the THC differently when it is extracted and used in oil form. Cannabis impacts everyone differently so it is really up to the individual to decide and evaluate whether the drug is having a negative impact on their memory. Like any drug, it can be highly habit-forming and should not be abused. Those concerned about the impact that cannabis is having on their lives should definitely have an open and honest conversation with a health care professional to gain clarity.