Marijuana Short and Long-Term Effects On The Brain

Marijuana is often touted as a safe and benign drug with few negative consequences. But is marijuana as harmless as it seems? All drugs have some effect on the brain and body. Understanding marijuana’s short- and long-term effects on the brain can help individuals understand just how harmful the substance can be when used chronically.

Marijuana and The Brain

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates various functions, including mood, memory, and appetite. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and alters their function, resulting in the various effects of marijuana.

Unlike most other drugs, which target specific brain areas, marijuana affects the entire brain. When THC enters the bloodstream, it binds to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, including the brain. This action increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and reward. THC also alters how information is processed by the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for memory formation. As a result, users may experience impaired short-term memory and have difficulty forming new memories. Marijuana also alters how sensory information is processed by the thalamus, which can lead to changes in perception and a feeling of time speeding up or slowing down.

Short-Term Effects Of Marijuana On The Brain

Despite what you may have heard, marijuana is not entirely harmless. While it’s true that the drug has several potential medical uses, it can also cause some short-term effects on the brain. For instance, marijuana use can lead to memory problems and difficulty concentrating. It can also impair your ability to make sound decisions and react quickly to your surroundings. In addition, marijuana use has been linked to anxiety and depression.

  • Memory problems. It’s no secret that marijuana use can lead to memory problems. But you may not realize that these problems can persist even after you stop using the drug. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of your use, especially if you’re young. Studies have shown that marijuana use can impair the development of the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for memory formation. If you start using marijuana in your teenage years, you’re more likely to experience memory problems later in life. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that the brain is resilient and can recover from damage caused by drug use. So if you’re struggling with memory problems, there’s still hope. With time and effort, you can improve your memory and get your life back on track.
  • Difficulty concentrating. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, binds to brain receptors responsible for regulating mood, memory, and perception. As a result, marijuana use can cause changes in how the brain functions, which can lead to difficulties with concentration and memory.
  • Anxiety. The high THC content in marijuana can cause paranoia and even panic attacks. However, there are a few key reasons why marijuana may cause anxiety. First, marijuana is a psychoactive substance that can alter your mood and perception. This can be particularly disorienting if you’re not used to it and can lead to feelings of anxiety. Additionally, marijuana use can lead to dehydration, which can also cause anxiety and panic. Finally, marijuana use can interfere with your sleep cycle, leading to fatigue and irritability.
  • Depression. marijuana causes depression because it interferes with the body’s ability to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood regulation. When serotonin levels are low, it can lead to feelings of sadness and despair. Therefore, by interfering with the body’s ability to produce serotonin, marijuana can indirectly cause depression.

Long-Term Effects Of Marijuana On The Brain

Despite the common perception that marijuana is harmless, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that it can have several long-term adverse effects. These effects are particularly pronounced in regular users, who are at risk of developing dependence and experiencing negative consequences in their personal and professional lives. Some of the most well-documented effects of marijuana include impaired memory and attention, decreased IQ, anxiety, depression, and increased rates of psychosis.

  • Decreased IQ. One of the most well-established risks of marijuana use is its impact on IQ. Studies have shown that regular marijuana use can lead to a decreased IQ, especially in young people whose brains are still developing. While it may be tempting to write off these findings as yet another example of the “war on drugs,” it’s important to remember that the risks associated with marijuana use are real and should not be taken lightly.
  • Increased risk of psychosis. Marijuana has been used for centuries to relieve pain and help with various medical conditions. However, there is also a potential downside to using marijuana, as it can impair psychosis. People predisposed to mental illness are particularly vulnerable to the effects of marijuana, as the drug can trigger psychotic symptoms. While most people who use marijuana will not experience any adverse effects, it is important to be aware of the potential risks. Psychosis is a serious mental illness that can cause hallucinations, delusions, and problems with thinking and concentration. People with psychosis often have difficulty functioning in everyday life. While there is no cure for psychosis, treatment can help people manage their symptoms and live productive lives.

Treatment That Restores Lives and Heals The Brain

The long-term effects of marijuana on the brain are still being studied, but it is clear that the drug can have a negative impact on cognitive function and mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Recovery is possible, and there are many people who want to support you on your journey back to health. Contact us today if you’re ready to reclaim your life from marijuana addiction.

Innovative, Evidence-Based Therapies

Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

This low-impact magnetic stimulation activates neurons inside the brain, relieving symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

qEEG/Brain Mapping

Using brain scanning and readings, we create a map of our patients’ brains, helping us develop more targeted and effective treatments.


This process assists patients in visualizing their own brain functionality through continuous EEG readings.

Spravato Therapy

We use carefully monitored doses of Spravato to help patients struggling with complex mental health disorders, including severe depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Patients use this practice to help reframe intrusive or negative thought patterns and develop coping techniques for long-term recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This practice helps patients learn to regulate emotions, communicate more effectively, and process their own thoughts and feelings..

Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR)

Licensed and trained therapists guide patients through this technique for managing stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.

Individual Therapy

Patients experience one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist to provide a safe and private place to recover and heal.

Group/Family Therapy

Patients can practice the skills and techniques they have learned in treatment with others in a safe, therapist-guided space.

Contact StoneRidge Centers

5940 E. Copper Hill Dr. Ste B & E, Prescott Valley, AZ. 86314

We exercise progressive, leading brain science in our treatment approach for patients in our community and across the country who are struggling with mental health and addiction challenges.