How Does Cannabis Affect Your Memory?

Memory loss is one of the negative effects that have been attributed to marijuana use over the years.  This is an issue that has been the subject of numerous research studies, with the results often seeming to be contradictory. Most pot users know that your memory is slightly impaired when you are experiencing your high. But are there any lasting effects? To understand the effects that cannabis has on your memory, we first need to understand that there are different types of memory. These can be broadly grouped into short-term memory and long-term memory.

Effects of Cannabis on short-term memory

Short-term memory, also known as working memory, refers to the memories that we form in ‘real time’ during our daily experiences. There are different types of memories that make up working memory. Scientific research and anecdotal experiences have consistently shown that the human brain is impaired under the effects of Cannabis to effectively store short-term memories.

Tests have shown that people are less likely to recall new knowledge that they are exposed to when they are under the effects of Cannabis. Similarly, they are less aware of their surrounding environment and will find it difficult to recall specific items in their environment when they are high.

Effects of Cannabis on the ability to recall their long-term memories

Another interesting fact about cannabis use is that it impairs a user’s ability to recall facts and knowledge that is already stored in their long-term memory. Without any additional learning, cannabis users tend to score lower on tests when they are high than when they are sober. There are differing opinions on whether this has any long-term effects or whether it can be attributed simply to temporary reduced cognitive abilities due to the effects of Cannabis.

Effects of Cannabis on long-term memory

There isn’t a consensus on whether cannabis use has an effect on long-term memory. Most studies seem to suggest that heavy marijuana use would have long-term effects on your brain’s capacity to store memories. However, long-term moderate cannabis users seem to test similar to non-users in memory tests.  It might not be clear as to the difference between ‘heavy’ and ‘moderate’ users as the terms are frustratingly vague.

Interestingly, Cannabinoids have been shown to reduce the likelihood of your brain developing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Pot users who prefer strains that have higher cannabinoid concentrations can actually improve their long-term memory capacity.

Effects of Cannabis on negative memories

The brain has a mechanism for getting rid of negative memories to improve your overall mental health. People who have experienced intensely traumatic experiences, such as war veterans and abuse victims, suffer from PTSD due to these negative memories lingering on. Cannabis has been identified as an effective treatment for PTSD patients since it aids the brain’s capacity to reduce the impact of these negative memories.


Everything, when not used in moderation, is bound to have long-term adverse effects. Cannabis is a psychoactive substance that interacts with your brain. And as such, you should enjoy it responsibly. While there has been no conclusive verdict on the effects of Cannabis on your long-term memory, research seems to suggest that such effects are caused by heavy use. If enjoyed responsibly, Cannabis should not have any negative effects on your long-term memory.

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