Smoking marijuana often causes temporary problems with memory and learning. Now researchers think they know why.When you're high, your mind can walk the same number of steps as it can when you're sober. But instead of taking several steps forward, it takes a couple forward, a couple backward, and a few to the side. The subsequent illogical irrationality might support some of the putative 'creativity' that is said to flourish when users are high, in so far as said creativity is a deviation from rationality. It certainly points to why people appear dumber when doped up.
The active ingredient in the drug, tetrahydrocannabinoid (THC), disrupts the way nerves fire in the brain’s memory centre, a new study shows. ...
Normally, cells in hippocampus fire in sync, creating a current with a total voltage of around 1 millivolt. But THC reduced the synchrony of the firing. The drug did not change the total number of firings produced, just their tendency to occur at the same time – and this reduced the combined output voltage of the nerve signals by about 50%.
The deleterious effects of hash on cognition and memory aren't surprising. Previous studies have revealed a relationship between long-term use and an inhibited ability to form memories. The argument in favor of marijuana use that is premised on the relative success of the user ("I've smoked throughout high school and still have a 3.8 GPA!") is a non sequitur. And Michael Vick could eat Snickers bars all day and still be a better quarterback than I am. That doesn't mean the Snickers are improving his quarterbacking skills. This same fallacious egalitarian assumption inaccurately underlies opinions on other things like religion and democratic self-determination.
Advocates claiming that marijuana is harmless are making unfounded assertions. The effects of cannabis use, especially those long-term in nature, are not well known. The same arguments used to be made on behalf of cigarettes. Now municipalities across the country are banning them due to the damage they cause others in the form of second-hand smoke. Might potheads similarly be damaging the memories of those in close proximity when they smoke up? The mere possibility is enough to keep me tenaciously opposed to legalization. Memories make us who we are. There's scarcely anything more distasteful than cognitive impairment in my mind.
++Addition++But THC might be an antidote to fight memory failure as well:
In lab experiments, the scientists found THC was significantly better at disrupting the abnormal clumping of malformed proteins. THC could completely prevent AChE from forming amyloid plaques, while two drugs approved for use against Alzheimer's, donepezil and tacrine, reduced clumping by only 22 and 7 percent, respectively, at twice the concentration of THC used in the tests.By binding to nerve receptors, THC disrupts the synchrony of neural firing in the brain, messing up thought processes and recall. Similarly, it appears to block abnormal protein clumping in older age. Maybe in the future targeted THC injections will be a way of combatting Alzheimer's and other diseases that attack the memory, but ingesting it by smoking joints doesn't appear to be the way to harness its potential benefits.