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How Cannabis Impacts Memory and Learning

 September 14, 2022  Written by Kristen Williams
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Have you ever tried reading while high? 

If you found it challenging to retain new information, you’re not alone. Cannabis can impact memory!

How does memory work?

There are two different types of memory: short-term and long-term memory, and each is controlled by different parts of your brain. 

Generally speaking, the hippocampus is responsible for learning and short-term memory while the prefrontal cortex is responsible for your long-term memory. (Though these two parts of your brain do work together when you recall a memory.) 

How does cannabis affect memory?

Your brain has tons of endocannabinoid receptors, and a big portion of those receptors are located in these two areas of your brain.

How THC affects memory

When THC binds to these receptors, it can interrupt the signaling between neurons, making it difficult for your brain to fire the synapses it needs to form a memory — or concentrate, or recall old memories. 

There’s less research on how THC affects long-term memory and the prefrontal cortex. Some data suggests that heavy cannabis consumers can experience impairment of long-term memories, but other studies demonstrate that while cannabis users process memories differently, they were still able to form long-term memories and those memories were still high quality.  

How CBD affects memory

Conversely, CBD has been shown to increase blood flow to the hippocampus. Researchers aren’t quite sure what this means yet, but more blood flow through the hippocampus seems to be associated with better memory. (This also suggests that CBD could be helpful for balancing abnormalities in blood flow control that are connected to Alzheimer’s.

CBD has also been shown to reduce anxiety associated with fearful memories, making it an incredible tool for anyone struggling with PTSD. 

How can I avoid negative effects on my memory? 

The short answer: minimize your dose of THC and add CBD. Let’s take a closer look at these options: 

Minimize your dose of THC

A 2020 study showed that a 15mg oral dose of THC could impair memory during a visual working memory task. When participants had a dose of just 7.5mg THC, there was no noticeable impact on task performance. 

That said, everyone is different and the line that takes you from perfectly medicated to memory-impaired is unique to you. To learn how to find your perfect dose of THC, check out our microdosing series on YouTube. 

Add CBD to your dose of THC

Not only has CBD been shown to enhance memory, but CBD also changes the shape of your endocannabinoid receptors so that THC doesn’t bind to them as strongly.

If you prefer smoking flower or concentrates where finding high concentrations of CBD is rare, consider looking for strains high in a-pinene, a terpene that’s been shown to support memory by increasing alertness and attention span. 

Our Favorite Low-Dose Products with CBD

Florissant Favorites
• Ratio 1:1 Mints — Kristen's favorite low-dose product (2.5mg) for discreetly managing stress while staying productive
• Smokiez Blackberry Fruit Chews — Available as a 100mg bag (10mgTHC & 1.5mg CBD per chew), or 250mg bag (22mg THC & 4.25mg CBD per chew) 

Kansas City Favorites
 1:10 Blood Orange + Candied Hazelnut Dark Chocolate from Honeybee
• Plus Daytime Gummies from Robhots — with CBC to help boost mood!

Staff Favorite Strains with Memory-Supporting Pinene

Florissant Favorites
• Apple Fritter from Proper or Vertical — a patient favorite!
• Super Sour Cream sauce cart from Head Change — Ron is loving this one!
• First Class Funk or Clementine from C4 — Jeff's recommendations

Kansas City Favorites
• Mountain Top Mint — Cat's recommendation
 Chanel No.5 from Robust — Clean Green Certified and Certified Kind!


Want to learn more about cannabis and memory? We loved this article from Leafly!

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