Does Weed Make You Dumber?

Does Weed Make You Dumber? Plus Other FAQs About Weed & Brain Cells

Does Weed Make You Dumber?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Does weed make you dumb? Does weed kill brain cells? This is perhaps the most common myth surrounding marijuana. And it is a scary story that many people receive from their parents and teachers.

Yet of the 18% of Americans who smoked cannabis in 2019, no evidence has ever shown that marijuana kills brain cells, murders neurons, or destroys memory. So, what does weed do to your brain?

This guide tackles this issue to help you understand the impact of weed on the brain.

Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?

Before discussing the issue of weed-killing brain cells, it’s vital, to begin with one of the most notorious studies. The New Zealand IQ study followed 1,000 individuals over 38 years in an attempt to draw a connection between marijuana use and cognitive decline.

The study concluded that people who used pot as adolescents and adults saw a drop of up to eight IQ points by midlife. In other words, they supposedly became dumber. But this flawed study has seen its link disproven many times since.

A 2013 reply to the study highlighted that the source of the cognitive decline could have been personality factors over the course of the participants’ lives. In particular, low conscientiousness has been associated with drug use and poor performance tests.

Moreover, in another 2016 study, it was highlighted that genetic factors can cause cognitive decline. In other words, some people are likelier to become more forgetful or even stupider as they age.

But what about people who feel like they are more forgetful after heavy marijuana use?

Nobody would deny that smoking weed before a cognition test will lead to poorer results. This is not up for debate. However, the idea that marijuana causes permanent loss of cognition is one that has been largely disproven.

But can your brain recover from weed?

According to a study by the University of Harvard, it was found that learning and memory impairments for heavy users of weed typically vanish within 28 days of quitting smoking. Contrast this to heavy alcohol users who may experience these impairments for years after quitting drinking.

So, does smoking weed kill brain cells, and does weed make you stupid? There’s no evidence to show that either of these things occurs.

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Does Marijuana Kill the Neurons in the Brain?

Your Central Nervous System (CNS) is made up of cells that provide the structure of the brain and the neurons that act as the signaling system.

Whenever you smoke marijuana, the THC interferes with this signaling system by binding to the CB1 receptors in your brain. This is how weed produces its various effects because it’s directly influencing the parts of your brain responsible for psychological processes like memory, pain sensitivity, hunger, and anxiety.

So, does THC kill brain cells or neurons? Again, no evidence shows that marijuana has a different effect on neurons. Marijuana has not been shown to be toxic to the brain or its processes.

Instead, THC (and CBD) will change your state of mind, but there’s no scientific evidence to show that this is permanent.

Do Edibles Kill Brain Cells?

Edibles function no differently than other forms of marijuana. The only difference is the method of ingestion. Instead of smoking it, you eat it.

This has a profound difference regarding how cannabinoids enter your bloodstream and brain. When smoked, marijuana is absorbed within seconds, which is why you immediately begin to feel high.

On the other hand, edibles must be broken down in your stomach and absorbed via the digestive system. This is why it can take one to two hours before you begin to feel the effects of an edible. But the ingredients are the same, meaning its effects on the brain are no different.

Does Delta-8 Kill Brain Cells?

When discussing, “Does weed make you dumb?” or “Does weed kill brain cells?” it leads to the conversation over synthetic products.

Delta-8 is one of the newest forms of THC and can be found in countless products. It’s created via synthetic manufacturing that relies on CBD and hemp. Since it’s synthetic, delta-8 is often far more potent than is found in raw extracts.

Most people are familiar with delta-9 THC, which is the natural THC found within cannabis. While there are chemical differences, there’s no evidence as of yet to show that delta-8 has a negative effect on the brain.

In fact, according to medical studies, delta-8 is most often used to help with medical conditions like:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Stress

For now, more medical research must be conducted into the effects of delta-8 on the brain, but there are no red flags to show that delta-8 is hazardous to your cognitive ability.

Does weed kill brain cells?

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Does CBD Kill Brain Cells?

CBD is the polar opposite cannabinoid of THC. Unlike THC, CBD is entirely non-psychoactive, meaning that it cannot make you high. Instead of directly binding to CB1 receptors, it merely influences them.

One of its primary functions is to actually prevent THC from binding to your CB1 receptors, so weed strains with higher CBD ratios are less likely to give you a potent, long-lasting high.

As with THC, CBD products have not been proven to kill brain cells. Furthermore, CBD products are often legal even in states where all forms of THC remain prohibited.

Does Weed Make You Forgetful or Lose Memory?

One of the biggest concerns people have about prolonged marijuana consumption is the impact of cannabis on memory. Plenty of stoners feel forgetful when they smoke weed, but is this a permanent effect? Do weed make you lose memory?

Firstly, the University of Harvard makes it clear that short-term memory loss and problems with thinking do result from smoking marijuana. This is because the THC in marijuana binds to the receptors in your brain, which interferes with memory formation.

With this interference, it prevents you from forming new memories, which is likely why you cannot remember the night before after a heavy smoking session. However, no evidence has emerged to demonstrate that this effect is permanent or that smoking weed can cause you to lose existing memories.

So, does weed make you forget things? It can make you forget things within your working memory, but you are unlikely to lose your childhood moments because you decided to smoke a joint.

So Does Weed Make You Dumber?

The popular myth is that smoking weed makes you stupid. This has been heavily promoted by constant stereotypes in movies and other aspects of popular culture, where stoners are always portrayed in a certain way.

Does weed make you slower? Undoubtedly, someone who is high will be slower than someone who is sober. Again, no evidence shows that smoking weed is liable to make you dumber.

However, there is a caveat to that. Underage smokers may be believed to be dumber because regular smokers may fail to apply themselves in other areas. For example, teenagers who smoke regularly are proven to apply themselves less in school.

In other words, marijuana doesn’t reduce your intelligence, but it can prevent you from doing things to improve how smart you are.

So, do smart people smoke weed? Plenty of geniuses who smoked weed continue to function at the highest levels of society even today. Perhaps the most significant example is the wealthiest man in the world, Elon Musk, who smoked weed live on a podcast with Joe Rogan.

There’s no proof in the idea that only dumb people smoke weed.

Does Weed Make You Smarter?

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If Not, Then Does Weed Make You Smarter?

While weed does not make you dumber, there is also no evidence to show that weed makes you smarter, either. But can weed make you smarter in the right circumstances?

In terms of pure intelligence, no. But it can make people more motivated if they decide to smoke a Sativa to get those creative juices flowing. In these cases, it can help people to apply themselves productively.

But there are no substances that have ever been found that can act as a legitimate “Smart Drug.”

Why Do Stoners Think They’re Smart Then?

This is nothing more than a false belief. Often, those people who rely on weed to get themselves through the day believe that it makes them smarter because they have forgotten how to function without it.

Although marijuana is not a chemically addictive substance, and nobody has ever died from an overdose, behavioral addiction can occur.

Stoners might think they’re smart, but as to the question, “Does weed make you smarter or dumber?” The answer is neither.

Apply for Your Medical Weed Card Today With Green Health Docs!

Does weed make you dumb? Does weed kill brain cells? The answer is no in both scenarios, making marijuana perfectly safe to enjoy without worrying about your long-term brain health.

But weed can change your behavior, making it essential that you uncover the right strain for you. Begin your journey by seeing if you qualify for a medical marijuana card in your state. To learn more, contact Green Health Docs today.


Dr. Anand DugarThis article has been reviewed by Dr. Anand Dugar, an anesthesiologist, pain medicine physician and the founder of Green Health Docs. Graduating from medical school in 2004 and residency in 2008, Dr. Dugar has been a licensed physician for almost 20 years and has been leading the push for medical cannabis nationwide.