Whereas the research on marijuana use has yet to address
long-term effects, it is often believed that long-term use can lead to a large deficit in cognitive functioning. Users report having acute difficulty remembering things, learning new things, and sustaining attention/concentration. Other cognitive processes that may be affected include decision-making, risk-taking, impulsivity, and inhibition. The duration, frequency, and dosage when using marijuana can all impact the extent of cognitive impairment and the length of impairment.
Bourque, J. & Potvin, S. (2021). Cannabis and Cognitive Functioning: From Acute to Residual Effects, From Randomized Controlled Trials to Prospective Designs. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.596601
Shrivastava, A., Johnston, M., & Tsuang, M. (2011). Cannabis use and cognitive dysfunction. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 53(3), 187-191. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.86796
Kroon, E., Kuhns, L., & Cousijn, J. (2021). The short-term and long-term effects of cannabis on cognition: recent advantages in the field. Current Opinion in Psychology, 38, 49-55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2020.07.005
Hill, K. & Hsu, M. (2022). Cognitive effects in midlife of long-term cannabis use. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cognitive-effects-of-long-term-cannabis-use-in-midlife-202206142760
It is known that cannabis use can impact cognitive functioning, but the age an individual begins using can have an impact as well. A review of 48 studies regarding marijuana use and educational outcomes revealed that smoking adolescents had a reduced chance of graduating. Individual differences outside of marijuana use can come into play; however, one study considered background and ensured the participants came from similar education levels and income brackets. Results from this study suggested that adolescents who engaged in heavier marijuana use were less likely to complete college, and most had a yearly income of $30,000 or less. Again, individual differences can have a large impact on the side effects of marijuana use, but cognitive deficits do occur with use and may worsen the younger the user is.
Suerken, C. K., Reboussin, B. A., Egan, K. L., Sutfin, E. L., Wagoner, K. G., Spangler, J., & Wolfson, M. (2016). Marijuana use trajectories and academic outcomes among college students. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 162, 137-145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.02.041
Patte, K. A., Qian, W., & Leatherdale, S. T. (2017). Marijuana and alcohol use as predictors of academic achievement: A longitudinal analysis among youth in the COMPASS study. Journal of School Health, 87(5), 310-318. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12498
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