How CBD Affects Your Memory

UPDATED ON DECEMBER 5, 2018

You may have heard that marijuana or THC can negatively affect your memory. Since they are so closely related, does this mean that CBD will affect your memory?

CBD lacks THC, so the short answer is no, it doesn’t affect your memory. There’s research to support how CBD may actually protect our brains and improve memory. This is due to the fact that CBD is a cannabinoid and our bodies naturally produce cannabinoids on their own. They help nourish and protect your brain. Researchers from the Netherlands found that CBD may actually be counteractive to THC’s impairing effects if you use them together. CBD may have the power to reverse cognitive damage in the brain and be able to repair it.

Researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia studied the impact of the anti-inflammation properties of CBD on receptors in the brain and how this can impact the progression of Alzheimer’s. They explain, “Cannabinoids show anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antioxidant properties and have immunosuppressive effects. Thus, the cannabinoid system should be a prime target for AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) therapy.”

If CBD can help protect our brains, this is very hopeful for the many people suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Many people are already turning to CBD as a safer alternative compared to pharmaceutical drugs.

THC and Memory

Contrary to CBD, THC binds to receptors in the brain and makes it more difficult to encode new memories. In other words, one may not remember things they said or did when they were high as clearly verses when they are sober.
When you have THC present in your body, you also may have trouble with short-term recall or short-term memory. Remembering events or facts while you’re high may be difficult and may take a longer time to do. This effect can last up until the THC wears off. It may come across as you are just forgetful, which is not necessarily true, it is just that your brain is functioning and processing things a bit slower because you are in a very relaxed state.

Does THC Harm Your Brain?

Researchers at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Kentucky College of Medicine found that the memory-affecting traits that THC has on the brain begin to wear off over time. In other words, we see that users can develop a tolerance to the effects and experience less and less of them over time. Prolonged use of marijuana can make the user less and less sensitive to the ways marijuana affects memory.

However, there’s the concern that consuming high levels of marijuana over prolonged periods of time can have adverse effects on long-term memory. Researchers from the Department of Neurology of the University Hospital of Patras in Patras, Greece found that heavy marijuana users (four or more joints per week) performed worse on cognitive tests, especially in the ability to learn and remember new information. Those who smoked for more than 10 years had more problems than those who smoked from 5-10 years.

They also discovered that marijuana users performed worse in recall, recognition, and executive functions of the brain compared to non-users. Long-term users had a 70% impairment in making decisions, short-term users 55%, and 8% for non-users. Frequent users also performed worse on tests that required paying attention to more than one thing at a time, as well as verbal fluency.