by Petar Petrov, Staff Writer for Terpenes and Testing Magazine
There’s a wide-spread belief that all memories dissolve much more quickly in cannabis fumes and smoke. Photographic memory and encyclopedic knowledge aren’t exactly the signature traits of the “stoner” stereotype, and probably rightfully so.
But human memory is no simple matter, and neither is cannabis. Multi-dimensional, eclectic, mysterious, ever-changing, subjective, personal – neither memories nor the effects of cannabis are easily pinned down, and it only gets harder when the two are tightly entwined.
Cannabis can make you remember, forget, reminisce, even make you “remember” things that didn’t actually happen – it’s the nature of the events and information that make the difference between memories and oblivion.
Cannabis and memory impairment
It’s no secret that cannabis, especially perpetual use, can envelope your mind and memory in a mist so thick it may never truly disperse.
For example, a study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that heavy cannabis use permanently hinders verbal memory in middle age.  The researchers divided participants in two groups – heavy cannabis users in one and abstainers and occasional users in the other, and had everybody memorize a list of words. After 25 minutes, the heavy cannabis users remembered less of the words than the other group.
What’s more surprising though is that cannabis can actually trick people into thinking something has happened, or create “false memories”, as experts call them.
The Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research conducted a study that probed these false memories.  However, instead of having participants memorize and recall words, researchers gave them a list of words, and after a few minutes, they presented them with another list, consisting mostly of the same words, but with a few added ones – some related to the original and some unrelated. Participants had to choose which words were originally on the list.
Afterwards, the animals displayed cognitive functions and memory performance as good as the ones of a two-month-old mice.
While no studies establish a connection between cannabis and nostalgia, some of the more emotional, deeply human aspects of our relationship with the flower are best explained by real cannabis lovers rather than hard science and cold facts. Because if you break down nostalgia, you’ll see cannabis is a key that unlocks all its sources, directly or indirectly.
We all know how much cannabis enhances music and art – and isn’t music one of the straightest modes of travel back in time? The more meaning and feelings you attach to a song, the closer to a memory you can get back to.
There are even people who experience nostalgia for particular varieties of cannabis and particular harvests of the very same plant.
Even indirectly, cannabis is often the start of memories in the first place – it’s a pretext, a catalyst, that special extra spice to so many situations whose aftertaste lingers long after the moment has passed.
Ultimately, heavy cannabis use is rarely a good thing – not for memory, nor for anything else, just like nothing is ever really good in excess. But do it right, and not only will your memory be fine, but it might even become a large cassette with some fascinating retro films you can revisit every once in a while.
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