cognitive cannabis elderly age related ability brain mind old

Long-Term Cannabis Use Not Linked to Age-Related Cognitive Differences

One of the most common stereotypes regarding the cannabis plant is that it harms the brain.

Cannabis consumers have historically been portrayed by mainstream media, on television, and in film as being less intelligent than everyone else, and that the low intelligence is a direct result of cannabis consumption. This has been repeatedly disproven by scientific research.

To make matters worse, that stereotype has been further perpetuated by negative propaganda that cannabis opponents have spread for many decades.

This harmful stereotype still exists in the minds of many people. Fortunately, that is changing.

Cannabis reform and the legal cannabis industry are spreading across the globe and in the process educating people about the truth regarding the cannabis plant and those who consume it.

Consumers and patients all over the planet are breaking the stigma and destroying the long-held stereotypes.

The fact of the matter is — many very intelligent people consume cannabis — and that has presumably been the case since humans first began consuming cannabis.

Science is demonstrating that cannabis can actually be good for the human brain, or at the very least not detrimental, as reflected in a recent study out of Israel.

Exploring Cognitive Differences in Older Adults

Researchers in Israel analyzed the cognitive capabilities of 63 subjects as part of a study involving cannabis and the brain.

All study subjects were long-time medical cannabis consumers and were compared to 62 non-cannabis consumers for the purposes of the study.

All of the study’s participants reported suffering from chronic pain, with the average age of study participants being 61 years old.

Study participants were subjected to various cognitive tests to assess memory recall, reaction time, and the ability by the study participant to learn new information.

Brain function naturally deteriorates with age and some anti-cannabis spokespeople claim cannabis can make that aging accelerate. However, that’s not what researchers have found.

Researchers’ Conclusions

The researchers found “no significant differences in cognitive function” between the cannabis consumer group and the non-cannabis consumer group. 

“In this sample of individuals with neuropathic pain, no significant differences were found in cognitive performance between non-MC [medical cannabis] licensed and licensed patients, and evidence for lack of an association was stable and moderate,” the study’s authors concluded.

“In addition, no significant associations of various aspects of MC use patterns, including THC/CBD concentration, frequency and length of use, dosage and length of abstinence with cognitive performance were detected. Moreover, both MC licensed and non-licensed patients performed relatively similar to a standardized population with no chronic pain,” the researchers went on to say.

Authors also stated the following: “More accepting public attitudes and policies related to cannabis use, in addition to increasing life expectancy, are expected to result in increasing numbers of middle- and old-aged individuals who use cannabis for long periods. Considering the accumulating evidence showing efficacy of cannabis use for multiple health conditions common in older individuals, the lack of adverse effects on the brain in the current sample of individuals with chronic pain who were older than 50 years can contribute to a better risk–benefit assessment of MC treatment in this population.”


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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