A study published by JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that individuals who smoke marijuana regularly as teenagers remember fewer words in middle age.
More than 5,000 participants were selected for the study in the age range of 18 to 30 years. Over the course of the next 25 years, the participants were followed up with periodically. At the end of the 25 year period, more than 3,400 participants were still in the study. The cognitive function of the participants were measured through standardized testing that included verbal memory and processing speed tests.
The results showed that current marijuana use resulted in poorer verbal memory and processing speed, and lifetime exposure to marijuana resulted in poor scores for three different areas of cognitive function. Past exposure was associated with a worse verbal memory. In fact, verbal memory was shown to be lower for every five years of marijuana use earlier in life. Past use did not appear to affect other areas of cognitive function tested in the study.
The study participants consisted of both male and female, as well as different races and education levels. The long term effects from only occasional use in early adulthood are not known.
The outcome of this study indicates that while many teenagers and young adults presume that marijuana use is not harmful, the opposite may be true. However, more research is needed.