It’s perhaps the biggest cannabis cultural cliche out there: cannabis makes you ridiculously forgetful. The Hollywood stoner archetype has of course no time for nuance, and there’s also a frequent assumption that, like an alcohol hangover, cannabis impedes recall the next day. We know all cliche has a base in truth, but which parts of the ‘classic stoner’ are true and which are a memory myth?
First off, there are different types of memory. The three main types, simply put are: short term memory (the brain holding recent information), working memory (the brain’s recall system to manipulate that information), and long term memory (a deeper layer of recall, where memories are held over a longer period of time).
In the short term
Every cannabis enthusiast knows that short term memory lapses are more than just a myth. The extent of memory lapses during a sesh may be influenced by the strain you are consuming and the quality of the cannabis in question. Short term memory loss can affect your ability to perform certain tasks safely (think cooking or driving) so adjust your intake according to what you ́re going to be doing and when, to keep safe.
It is thought that THC may be what impedes both recall of memories in the short term and/or the construction of new memories while under the influence. To date though, these affects both appear to be very temporary, typically wearing off after the first few hours.
If you want to enjoy a chatty high with fluid conversation then search for the best strains for socialising and creativity. A sativa with a clear head-high may be the difference between an exciting philosophical discussion, that can be picked up again the next day; and the couch-lock daydream that often comes with a heavy indica-dominant strain.
Though there has been some research indicating that regular cannabis smoking in the teenage years, when the brain is still developing, can have a negative impact on cognitive ability and IQ. The same lengthy research carried out in New Zealand indicated that this was not visible when consumption started as an adult. The effects on the teenage brain have also contested because other factors may not have been taken sufficiently in to account.
More research into the cognitive effects of cannabis use and age of uptake is needed. In the meantime some cannabis consumers commonly worry about the long term effects of regular use on their memory. However, there is evidence to suggest that even if we forget the start of our sentences in the moment, cannabis may help us preserve more of our cherished memories in the long run.