The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states that marijuana causes memory loss, both short- and long-term. Research into marijuana (medicinal or otherwise) supports that view. The risks of memory loss and other side effects can put those who use marijuana in a bind. In trying to ease pain or nausea, they’re forced to balance one set of side effects against another.
THC and CBD
While marijuana has over 400 chemical compounds (60 or them cannabinoids), the two chemicals most responsible for its positive and negative effects are THC (delta nine-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Aside from marijuana itself (which the FDA has not approved), the marijuana medications the FDA has approved for medical use contain one or both of these. THC is the chemical that makes us high, while CBD has no such effect. Thankfully, research is beginning to crack the mystery of how they affect the brain.
There are numerous studies of marijuana and its two primary components. In terms of memory loss, there are studies showing that higher levels of CBD can reduce the impairment of memory caused by THC. Another study suggests that low doses of THC may be helpful in restoring cognitive losses caused by age. And there are preliminary findings (very preliminary) that show promise for CBD in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. But research can take a long time. There are so many variables: the ratio of active compounds, dosage, subjects, and the many steps required by law and good science.
So Does Medicinal Marijuana Cause Short-Term Memory Loss?
The research findings may seem confusing (e.g. is THC good or bad?). But research is ongoing in the hope of discovering the right balance and dosage. The goal is to minimize memory loss and other side effects while maximizing medicinal value. So while marijuana does cause short-term memory loss, it may prove to also be its cure.