Foggy Mental Breakdown: Searching for that Elusive Word

While everyone experiences “brain fog,” science shows people who have regularly smoked some marijuana over time have a greater problem with “verbal memory.”

Even more disturbing, elementary school children are experimenting with marijuana, putting them at risk for forgetfulness in middle age and creating a pattern of dependency and even serious psychological disturbance called psychosis, research shows.

Regular “low-level” pot zaps word memory

A group of Swiss researchers conducted cognitive function tests on 3,385 subjects at five-year intervals over a 25-year period, documenting marijuana use during this time. Researchers found that for every five years of marijuana use, verbal memory slipped. Specifically, subjects had greater difficulty remembering words from a list of 15.

While other aspects of cognitive function don’t seem to be affected, researchers said middle-aged subjects experienced clear difficulty with word memory, compared to those who didn’t use marijuana.

Perhaps most importantly, subjects who smoked marijuana during the study period did so at “low levels,” indicating that even casual, infrequent use could affect memory.

Marijuana users trend younger

Researchers also noted that there are increasing numbers of younger marijuana users. Data from 2012 reveals that 37 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the last year, 23 percent used it within the last 30 days and 6.5 percent used it daily.

Effects will sneak up in their prime

Many people believe marijuana use is nothing more than a recreational experience without weighing potential cumulative effects. If children are smoking marijuana at such a young age, memory problems are going to sneak up on them.

Children who start smoking marijuana at a young age risk jeopardizing their future. It’s similar to kids who start smoking cigarettes in high school or eat mostly junk food through school. They reap what they’ve sown.

Serious risks of today’s potent marijuana

Even more disturbing, today’s cannabis is much more potent, carrying risks that previous generations did not experience.

The level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient most responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects, is 20 percent more potent in today’s cannabis compared to 1994. Cultivators often spike today’s marijuana with butane hash oil, which increases THC concentrations to 80 percent. Additionally, today’s marijuana contains lower levels of cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical that reduces the high and protects against side effects (sleepiness, paranoia, memory impairment).

Five-fold risk of psychosis, dependency

Studies show that today’s marijuana greatly increases risk of psychosis five-fold – if users smoke cannabis before their brains have matured. Users also have five times the risk of dependency. Synthetic marijuana, which is also easily available, is just as dangerous – with risks of psychotic episodes.

There’s a lot at stake when young people engage in a marijuana habit, far more than word forgetfulness. It’s imperative that parents become educated about these risks. Marijuana is no longer a simple recreational drug.