Marijuana Causes Long-term Brain Changes

Now that marijuana has been approved for medical and recreational use in a few U.S. states, heated debates over its safety are swirling in the media.  Although marijuana doesn’t necessarily pose the same immediate, life-threatening dangers as alcohol, we have seen that chronic, long-term use does cause significant brain changes—chiefly, slowed activity in the frontal and temporal lobes; areas of the brain involved with focus, concentration, motivation, memory, learning, and mood stability. 

Dr. Kabran Chapek has witnessed this first-hand at our Amen Clinic Northwest in Washington State, where marijuana was legalized for medical use in 2012. 


He says, “I’m not surprised when someone with anxiety tells me that they use marijuana or alcohol to help them sleep, or calm their nerves. It’s predictably people with over activity in their brains and problems like anxiety or PTSD who use sedating substances—we can see it on their SPECT scans.

The problem with marijuana is that it’s not selective.  Not only does it calm the parts of the brain that are overactive, it calms the entire brain—long-term—through a slow and insidious process.”


Some argue that marijuana is not addictive, but as this study demonstrates, it is a drug like any other.  Anything that makes us feel good—be it food, drugs, alcohol, exercise, gambling, or sex—causes a rewiring of the pleasure centers in the brain and intensifies cravings for it.

When someone stops using marijuana, significant irritability is common as the temporal lobes regain full functioning.  According to Dr. Chapek, one can expect to see improvements in motivation, concentration, and focus after abstaining for just 2-3 months.

Click here to find marijuana case studies from the Amen Clinics.

At the Amen Clinics, we can help you learn how to calm anxiety and overactive brain activity without causing long-term issues.  Call us today at 1-888-208-2057 or tell us more to schedule an appointment.

  • Zarayah Israel

    “slowed activity in the frontal and temporal lobes; areas of the brain involved with focus, concentration, motivation, memory, learning, and mood stability” so, you are willing to ignore what the brain changes are?

    • Michael

      I don’t trust the information. Cannabis doesn’t destroy anything. It’s one of the most wonderfully beneficial, safe, and effective drugs in existence.

  • Alex

    I believe in much of what this study claims, but theres another face to this. i know “pot smokers” who are very successfull people in there professional life and at the same time very sensible towards there family and loved ones. Certainly theres brain damage and consecuenses from every kind of abuse or addiction, but i also think that every person has is own way of reacting towards a susbtance or experience. Not all pot heads are the same, to some it numbs them, makes them a couch potato and others get a lot of motivation and creativity from Marihuana.