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How’s Your Brain After Prolonged Cannabis Smoking?


brain after smoking cannabis

A recent question on Reddit caught my attention that made me wonder why mainstream science hasn’t done research on how cannabis actually affects people’s brains over prolonged use. There have been a few attempts in the past – however, none of these studies paired people against non-users within a clinical environment. They always do retroactive studying, which never draws definitive conclusions.


The anecdotal evidence suggest that the answers are mixed. For many, there are no significant differences save a few elements, however – many of them contribute that possibly just a sign of an aging brain.


In today’s article we’ll be jumping into my personal 20+ year walk with cannabis and how I perceive my brain to be functioning this day. We’ll also be taking a look at other people’s comments from Reddit and what has to say about all of this.


What Reddit had to say…


I have fished out some of the more relevant comments from the article – however, feel free to check it out for yourself over here.


The first post came from a 61-year old male named “ChrisNEPhilly” who said;


“M/61. I do the NYT Sunday crossword puzzle in ink, motherf#@@ker.”


This was one of the more popular posts on the thread that seemed to get a lot of respect from the other cannabis users.


Another Redditor said;


I’m 27 and have been a heavy user for nearly ten years on and off. I’m pretty healthy and function well. I will say that I can’t remember a whole lot of the last ten years unless I really start to dig in there deep. I’m not sure if that’s normal or not. I mean, I just don’t spend much time reminiscing on the past.


If you’re 27, your mind is still very young and plastic. Furthermore, the ages between 18-28 more or less is your “Dumb Decade”. It’s a period where your brain is still fully maturing and you make rash and impulsive decisions or “dumb-sh!t!” It’s a time when you typically are “finding yourself” and go through a lot of phases (potentially). As for reminiscing about the past – that’s a sign of good health. Being present, in the moment – engaged with your life…that’s where you want to be. Being there at age 27 means you’re in a good place.


Jimifin had this to say;


Herb is stronger now than it was 30 years ago but many more available choices of strains. Half my friends have died from alcohol or cocaine overuse but I’m chemical free and still going strong.

Cannabis is certainly more potent these days, especially within a competitive cannabis marketplace. As Jimi pointed out, he’s still going strong despite his friends dying from other legal and illegal drugs. If we were to include tobacco, it would probably be more.


Gastropodius chimed in;


I function fine. Memory and processing may be a bit slower, but that happens with aging anyway.


As we age, our neural networks become more rigid, and locked into place. This is mainly due to “cerebral automation” or as we commonly refer to them as “falling into routines”. However, if you actively challenge your brain every day by taking new routes, changing things up – you can actually make your brain younger.


Doenerwetter said;


It can for sure affect your mental health but my take is that it’s just really effective at helping you ignore underlying problems in your life. That can be useful, but it can also be a trap for not dealing with your stuff. If you’re worried that might be your situation, take a month long break and see what happens. If you find it hard to take a month long break, you might have some problems you should work through, and that break is probably even more necessary. Generally, now, at ~40, I find myself not using it as much because I like to be fully present for my family and daily tasks, driving, etc. But when I do use it it makes me feel great and I wonder why I don’t use it more often. It’s basically frosting. If you put amazing frosting on moldy bread, it might taste ok for a while, but it’s actually bad. If you put frosting on a great cake, it’s just great. I got good advice when I was younger to keep a record of how I was feeling and how things were going in a journal. That can help you track whether it’s a useful tool or a crutch.


This user hits the nail on the head. What happens with most people who smoke, even heavy smokers during their more formative years – their use tends to wane over the years. This is because you simply have more stuff to do.


Then, when you are smoking – you can thoroughly enjoy the high because you do so as a means of relaxation and enjoyment. Cannabis becomes the “icing” to life. I personally have a similar experience with cannabis.


Reginald’s walk with weed…


I’ve been smoking weed for more than twenty years now. I’m neither “old” nor am I young. I’m an adult who is an active member of society and who’s relationship with cannabis has evolved. No longer do I chase after cannabis like I did when I was a teenager. Nor do I “need” it to get by every day. I use it as a means of relaxation, to help soothe my creative side and to help me destress from my daily/weekly duties.


When it comes to my memory, it’s pretty good. But I actively challenge my brain daily, I create new things and push myself beyond myself. I also use psychedelics on occasions and experiment with consciousness. My mind is sharper than it has ever been. I’ll continue to refine it until the day I expire.


The point I’m trying to make here is that while cannabis may have a physical impact on your physiology – so does coffee, sugar, and the burger you thoroughly enjoy. Cannabis has far less of an impact on cognition than falling into a mindless routine for fifteen years – day in and day out living life on repeat.


Neurologically speaking, you’re wiring your brain to “become one thing” – falling deep into cerebral automation and limiting your ability to think outside of the neurological box you’ve constructed over time.


Challenge yourself, do things differently – read a book for hell’s sake!


If you are smoking cannabis in moderation, and actively using your brain as intended, and not lurking about on social media to get butt-hurt over the next outrage-porn that appears in your feed – then your brain will be fine. The content that you choose to consume has a far more detrimental impact on your cognition than the food and drugs you consume.


Didn’t you say something about


Oh yes, basically – the studies that they have on cognition and elder use is not replicable science. The research is not definitive and essentially the vast majority of the scientific papers on the phenomenon is speculative at best.


To quote them directly;


Also, the ability to draw definitive conclusions about marijuana’s long-term impact on the human brain from past studies is often limited by the fact that study participants use multiple substances, and there is often limited data about the participants’ health or mental functioning prior to the study. Over the next decade, the National Institutes of Health is funding the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study—a major longitudinal study that will track a large sample of young Americans from late childhood (before first use of drugs) to early adulthood. The study will use neuroimaging and other advanced tools to clarify precisely how and to what extent marijuana and other substances, alone and in combination, affect adolescent brain development. – The Government


In the meanwhile, read a book – like a real one…your brain will appreciate it.









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