The next time you(r friend 😉) hits the blunt a little too hard and falls into a downward spiral of paranoia, utterly paralyzed by a momentary fear that they’re losing their mind, don’t worry. They are. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.
But those who indulge in ye olde Mary Jane may, however, be more susceptible to experiencing false memories than those who do not. And they may not retain information quite as well, either, according to a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
(For the record, everyone—pot smokers and non-smokers alike—experiences false memories from time to time, regardless of how healthy one is or how strong one's memory is.)
The study, a collaboration between the Biomedical Research Institute of Hospital de Sant Pau and from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research at the University of Barcelona, compared the memories of regular cannabis users (who had not partaken in the drug for a month prior to the study) and non-cannabis users.
The researchers had a group of stoners and non-stoners learn a series of words. Then, after about 15 minutes, they were shown the list of words—along with additional words they hadn’t seen before (some semantically related, some not).
Even though they had not consumed cannabis in a month, the stoners were more likely to believe they had seen the semantically related words than the non-users. And MRI scans of the stoners' brains showed less activity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain related to memory. The more cannabis the subject had consumed, the less activation the researchers saw in the hippocampus.
So the next time that stoner “friend of yours” is sitting on the couch and freaks out about whether or not they turned off the oven and burned their casserole, they’ll be delighted to know that there was probably never a casserole in the first place.