Close-up of a cannabis leaf held by hand. Close-up of a cannabis leaf held by hand.

Does Weed Kill Brain Cells? Let’s Deal with Marijuana Impacts on Our Body

If you’re like me, you may have some questions about the effects of weed on our bodies. With so much talk about its legalization and potential benefits, it’s important to understand what it can do to our nervous system and brain.

Weed or like people call it Marijuana is among the most commonly used drugs in the world, so much so that it is even legal in lots of places. I think that’s because of its medicinal effects. I have read in many researches that chronic consumption of weed leads to some sort of irregularity in the proper working of the nervous system and the brain. In many parts of the world, its consumption is illegal to a certain extent.

Are You Still Wondering If Marijuana Is Addictive?

Naturally, your brain releases a neurotransmitter called endocannabinoid. These have various functions in your body, specifically the brain and the nervous system. Weed contains cannabinoids which interact with these chemicals due to similar molecular structures.

Now read this- Marijuana consumption leads to the accumulation of cannabinoid neurotransmitters, which is what leads to the addiction-building process. Because the brain adapts to the heavy usage of marijuana which leads to reduced production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.

You know earlier I was just reading out of curiosity because I wanted to know about marijuana or the weeds. But, when I researched this topic, I found it a matter of concern. I also got to know many new terms like its dependence also has a medical term known as marijuana use disorder. Although not all users develop a disorder, almost 30% of those who consume develop some extent of it.

When people stop using they can experience various symptoms like mood and sleep difficulties, irritability, cravings, restlessness, reduced appetite, and other problems.

But now I can confidently say that I gained a lot of information about it. So, I want to share this with you guys. It might be helpful for you too.

Let Me First Explain the Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Weed

Weed affects a lot more of your body and not just your brain.

  • Some of the short-term effects are confusion, fatigue, anxiety, panic, poor coordination, inability to learn, impaired decision-making, and memory disruption.
  • Some people might even have migraines or hallucinations. A long and continuous use can also increase the chances of psychosis.
  • One of the most dangerous after-effects or long-term effects of weed is the ill effects on the brain.
  • Another risk is that marijuana can lead to relapse into other drugs or substances.

Research Has Also Proved Weed’s Positive Medicinal Effects

Marijuana although wrong when abused for wrong purposes but otherwise, has a lot of positive impacts also which is why it is also used for medicinal purposes also. Some of the effects are chronic pain relief, seizure regulation, treatment of glaucoma, slowing the development of Alzheimer, relieving symptoms of ADD and ADHD even PTSD. There have been debates for a long to legalize it considering its medicinal value. And that seems a positive step for the medicine and health department.

The Icy Whiz team talked to Dr. Abid Nazeer, a Psychiatrist and Chief Resident at Symetria Recovery, about the legalization of marijuana. Here is what he said:

Dr. Abid Nazeer
Dr. Abid Nazeer

“I have been asked countless times whether or not I believe the legalization of marijuana is a good thing, a horrible idea, or even worth discussing. 

I am sure people are curious because not only do I work with many clients overcoming substance use disorders, but also because I am a medical doctor who has read successful evidence that suggests marijuana’s medicinal benefit.

I would like to begin by defining substance use disorder itself: a chronic, yet recoverable disease that people can overcome to pursue a healthy quality of life.

While marijuana is not reported to incur as strong of an addictive tendency as other substances, there have been documented cases of substance dependency and addiction.

From a professional standpoint, if any individual abuses, or engages in harmful or unsafe use of marijuana, that is adequate cause for concern and the pursuit of qualified treatment for a substance use disorder.

It is from this perspective that I believe any responsible assessments of whether marijuana should be legalized for recreation, subject to stronger/legal regulation, or be considered safe for medicinal use are the criteria from which any legal and therapeutic judgments are made and put into place.”

What If We Compare Weed to Nicotine and Alcohol?

Any two drugs or substances never have the exact same results or consequences on the human body. Alcohol and nicotine are also different compared to weed and surprisingly there is one thing that is differentiating. It is the fact that alcohol and nicotine are both neurotoxins meaning that they are proven to kill brain cells, which is not yet proven for marijuana.

However, one thing that stands common for all three is how they affect adolescents. The chronic and long-term use of marijuana, alcohol, or nicotine leads to negative cognitive outcomes.

Does Weed Kill Brain Cells?
Source- Pixabay

We interviewed Tyler Browne, Founder & CEO of To the Cloud, on this. Here is what he had to say:

Tyler Browne
Tyler Browne

“As a seasoned expert in the cannabis industry, I’ve seen firsthand how perspectives on marijuana’s effects shape its legalization and regulation. Both aspects, its medicinal benefits and concerns about brain health and addiction, contribute to public and policy narratives.

  • Medicinal Benefits: A growing body of scientific research supports the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for chronic pain, epilepsy, and Multiple Sclerosis. Through offering an array of cannabis products, I’ve seen customers achieve significant relief, positively reshaping their perception of marijuana.
  • Risks on Brain Health and Addiction: It’s critical to acknowledge the potential risks. Ongoing education on safe usage and promoting products that minimize these risks are part of our mission at
  • Regulatory Challenges: The dichotomy of perspectives often results in a fragmented regulatory environment. Early in my career, I had to navigate distinct state laws while understanding federal limitations – a necessity for any entrepreneur in this sector.
  • Changing Public Perception: Increased awareness of both the benefits and risks of marijuana use helps us gain traction in the public sphere, supporting the path to decriminalization or legalization.

While there’s much work to be done on establishing a balanced view of marijuana, the progress made thus far provides hope for more nuanced, comprehensive policies in the future.”

Does the Age of the Marijuana User Make any Difference?

I also had this doubt earlier about the impact of marijuana on different age groups. I am sure you also want to know this.

First I’ll talk about adolescents. There has been a lot of research about how marijuana affects adolescent brain cells. It’s been found that the negative effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain are the risk of permanent memory and attention deficits.

It can also lead to brain changes structurally and abnormal neural functioning and heavy marijuana use can also trigger specific mental health disorders and lead to increased substance abuse. Everyday consumption can cause problems with regular cognitive function and even decreased IQ.

When it comes to adults, there is not extensive research on this and the effects are not very clear. However, we can clearly assume that the brain structure may alter due to long-term marijuana use. This is just an assumption though without any distinctive proof.

Weed Consumption- Edibles vs Smoking

Although the conventional way of weed consumption was smoking eventually people started becoming creative about it and edibles were introduced.

Cookies, brownies, and a lot of other things are now easily available for consumption. A misconception that a lot of people have is that the consumption of edibles as compared to smoking is less harmful to the respiratory system.

But, the truth is totally the other way around because weed edibles are more concentrated and contain more THC in one serving as compared to what you would get by just a puff from your pipe. They actually fail to understand the difference between whole weed buds and these.

Another difference that is quite important to consider is the fact that edibles kick in after some time and then suddenly they hit very strong, and they also last longer in your system.

So, you do not really know when are you completely in a safe zone for any activity like driving or working in general. The way of entering your brain is different when you smoke and when you consume an edible. Edibles use a different route to get into your bloodstream, here your liver converts the THC into a more potent form of THC which impacts your brain more than smoking.

The assumption that they do not impact the respiratory system much is that they don’t interfere with getting much oxygen. But they are much more strong and affect your brain a lot more than smoking.

Nicklas Brandrup, the Co-Founder of Neurogan, shared his views on the complexities of legalizing marijuana. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Nicklas Brandrup
Nicklas Brandrup

“My professional role and level of subject matter expertise truly make me a cannabis industry professional. I not only know the business side of the CBD and marijuana businesses but also the scientific composition of both and how they affect biological and mental systems.

When someone asks me about marijuana’s medicinal benefits, I simply direct them to multiple medical studies and subsequent proof as to how such means have assisted and cured complex medical disorders and symptoms.

From digestive issues, anxiety, PTSD, tumor growth, multiple sclerosis, cognitive decline, pain management, and a host of others, it is no wonder that marijuana is touted as a miracle drug from head to toe.

I feel that the issue of legalizing marijuana is one of the most polarizing platforms there is. Simply because there seems to be a line between those in favor and those who detest the idea of comparing its common use to that of nicotine.

I indeed understand the need to regulate anything that is considered a controlled substance, but also due to the undeniable proof of medical benefit, perhaps the argument is not as black and white as some would like to demand.

My company is in the business of CBD, which is obviously in the same scope as marijuana itself. Due to credited findings and diligent investigation, I feel we must decide if the positive attributes of marijuana outweigh the negative ones and make any calls of judgment from there.”

Conclusively, you can not say that marijuana kills brain cells, it has a lot of ill effects on your brain structure and function. It can impact memory and IQ, and also affect your cognitive and neural functions. The earlier you start, the higher the scope of getting addicted and the higher the consumption amount. However, we can’t ignore its benefits too. It is only helpful if taken for treatment purposes.

The form of consumption does make a difference if it’s a brownie or a cigarette but that does not mean one has an impact and the other doesn’t. It’s just a matter of the extent.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Pragya


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. The article provided a balanced view on the effects of weed on the brain. It not only focussed on the negative but also the positive aspects of the weed. I appreciate the scientific approach to this topic.

  2. Weed’s impact on brain cells is debated, with chronic use affecting neurotransmitters and causing dependence. Short-term effects include memory issues and anxiety, while long-term use may contribute to psychosis and alter brain structure. Marijuana has medicinal benefits, but its cognitive impact, especially on adolescents, raises concerns. Consumption methods, like edibles versus smoking, add complexity to the discussion.

  3. Well articulated! This article encourages a thoughtful and evidence-based approach to the topic. It’s a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding the impact of cannabis on brain health.

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