What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Weed?

Two different questions show two different sides.

Smoking Weed
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I smoked a lot of weed in my 20s but don’t anymore. Will my brain be OK?Dave R., Columbia, SC

The studies looking at the long-term effects of marijuana regarding brain function have come up with mixed results. Animal research does indicate that early-life exposure translates into cognitive issues in adulthood, but the question always lingers as to how relevant those studies are to humans. That said, there are studies in humans that do demonstrate that regular marijuana use during adolescence is linked to pretty substantial loss of volume in critical brain areas that deal with things like learning, memory, and impulse control.

I smoke a lot of pot and don’t plan on stopping. Will my brain be OK?Wally B., Eugene, OR

I guess the answers to this question depends on how you define “OK.” Research suggests that there may be damage to important brain regions dealing with executive function and memory resulting from sustained marijuana use. I, for one, would not consider this to be OK. Your call, Wally.

David Perlmutter, M.D., is president of the Perlmutter Health Center in Naples, FL, a researcher, and a published author.