Here’s How Scientists Think Cannabis Can Repair Brain Cells and Improve Memory

[Canniseur: Holy Smoke! This is wonderfully surprising. I was always told that cannabis was hurting my brain. Obviously didn’t listen, so here I am; An addled editor who consumes cannabis thinking my brain cells were all dead or dying. I’m not going to complain. The old dogma of “cannabis is bad” is slowly dying and here’s more proof of that. Cannabis helps the brain!]

For decades, governments and academics told us that smoking weed would lower our IQs, slow our reflexes, and even destroy our brain cells. These Reefer Madness-like claims were based on faulty studies, and they ignore new research that not only suggests cannabis doesn’t harm the brain, but that the plant could potentially regenerate brain cells, too.

The process where cannabis could repair our brains is called neurogenesis. That means cannabis may regrow brain and nerve cells contained in the spinal cord and found throughout the rest of the body. The science remains contentious, but practically every month a new study comes out supporting the weed-enhances-neurogenesis side of the debate.

Clearing the Air: Debunking the Myths Surrounding Weed and Brain Damage

First off, let’s get rid of any misconceptions you may hold regarding marijuana and brain damage.

Science has long debunked the myth that cannabis causes us to lose brain cells. This myth started in Egypt when the North African nation was under British imperial rule. Back then, a single British doctor concluded that hash smoking made Cairo’s residents go crazy. The myth later spread through the United Nations and ended up catching Harry Anslinger’s ear in the US, the architect of Reefer Madness in the 1930s, as well as the catalyst for cannabis prohibition. Anslinger used the Egyptian marijuana madness claims to spread lies that weed made black and brown men turn into axe-wielding rapists — supposedly due to brain damage caused by blazing joints.

In the late ‘60s, shortly after Anslinger’s Marihuana Tax Act was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, President Nixon rigged a scientific study using rhesus monkeys to falsely show that pot killed brain cells. Years later, neuroscientists commissioned by Playboy magazine found that the experiment suffocated the monkeys with ungodly amounts of smoke, which likely caused their brain damage. Regardless, the US government continued funding research that linked lower IQs to pot smoking, which have never, ever demonstrated causation, only correlation.

Recently, twins studies — a gold standard for scientific research in humans — have found that cannabis does not lower IQ nor does it harm the brain. Furthermore, brain scans of cannabis users also fail to show any significant differences between tokers’ brains and those of non-tokers.

The evidence remains inconclusive for marijuana’s neurogenerative properties, but keep in mind this field is still new. Prohibition stifled opportunities for research into cannabis’s positive health effects, though that’s rapidly changing as legalization sweeps the planet.


Weed Improves Memory

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