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Mind & Mood
The effects of marijuana on your memory
As you get older, certain aspects of memory normally decline, but that does not mean you are powerless to protect your brain as you age. In fact, there is a lot you can do. In addition to getting regular exercise and eating a Mediterranean style diet, you can also consider what is known and not known about marijuana.
Is weed bad for your brain?
Cannabis contains varying amounts of the potentially therapeutic compound cannabidiol (CBD), which may help quell anxiety. However, there's no question that marijuana (the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant) can produce short-term problems with thinking, working memory, executive function, and psychomotor function (physical actions that require conscious thought, such as driving a car or playing a musical instrument). This is because marijuana's main psychoactive chemical, THC, causes its effect by attaching to receptors in brain regions that are vital for memory formation, including the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex. The extent to which long-term use of marijuana (either for medical or recreational purposes) produces persistent cognitive problems is not known.
The laws regarding marijuana differ from state to state. Some outlaw it altogether, while others allow it for medical purposes—to help relieve pain and nausea, for example. And in a growing number of states, marijuana is legal for recreational use. But it remains illegal at the federal level. For that reason, it has been difficult for researchers in the United States to obtain federal research funding to study marijuana, limiting the amount of high-quality evidence available.
What you can do: If you use marijuana, understand you may have problems with memory and related cognitive functions while under the influence. There also is the possibility of developing cognitive problems with long-term use.
Image: tvirbickis/Getty Images
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Medical Marijuana: Facts about cannabis, THC, and CBD
Medical cannabis is available in more delivery methods than ever before, such as gummy bears, dried flowers, pills, lotions, drops and a variety of edibles, but what exactly does it do?
With so much misinformation and junk-science on the internet, it is important to get solid facts from doctors and scientists you can trust before deciding if medical marijuana could help you.
Now leading experts at Harvard Medical School are here to help you separate fact from frightening fiction about medical cannabis so you can make informed decisions. There are benefits for some conditions, and no benefit for others. And, while there is a lot of positive talk about cannabis, there are risks—especially if you’re over 55.
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