***ANYBODY WHO IS CONSIDERING MARIJUANA SHOULD TAKE THE TIME TO READ THIS***
Look guys, the bottom line is that there is a lot of BS out there on the web about marijuana.
The fact is that if you look around, you will find dozens and even hundreds of people who say that their smoking weed seems to have a permanent effect on their memory, perception, concentration. Sometimes these people indicate that "they can't be sure" but that they know "something's wrong."
The problem is that you get these people who rebuke their comments and discredit them outright because the pothead culture perpetuates myths about weed *only* affecting short term memory in response to the myths square society perpetuates about potheads. Both groups are wrong and dangerous.
The first time I used marijuana, I was 17. I remember being able to comprehend things easily. Words flowed easily. I thought very fast, felt very clear, and seem to recall (it's been years now) that I could read something and practically spew it back to you, almost verbatim. In short, I felt like my memory was very good.
The very first time I smoked pot, I remember the next day going over to my friend's house and asking questions like: "how long is this memory thing going to last?" [referring to the tremendous memory deficiency and cloudyness I felt had occurred] and asking similar probing questions. All he said to me was: "get used to it," over and over again.
I felt angry and betrayed that no one had mentioned this "memory thing" to me as being permanent, and in fact, hearing many times that it wouldn't be permanent.
Now to be honest, the fact is that for most people who use weed, it seems they are blissfully unaware of any such deficit that results from marijuana use. That's good for them. However, of the billions of people I've spoken to about this, only one person, maybe two, has mentioned that they have had a similar experience. So it seems to be rare, but for some people it's a very real phenomenon.
I cannot point out enough that this was a phenomenon that happened to me I noticed the VERY FIRST TIME I HAD EVER SMOKED POT. I didn't use it for weeks or a month or two afterward - I can't remember (this is something that before pot I felt like I would have had much better recall with) -, and I felt no return to normalcy. I was very sad and worried during this period because not only were new memories not coming with any ease, and they felt fleeting, but I noticed that memories from my childhood were much harder to access. It felt like everything that had happened before the night I smoked happened so long ago that the memories were fuzzy.
I'm in the latter half of my 20's now. I smoked for years because even in my long respites I never returned to normalcy, and I figured I might as well enjoy it if the "memory thing" won't go away. Now, it's true that during the breaks, I would get a little sharper, be a little more clear, and I would especially notice it when I returned to marijuana use later. However, as you can probably guess, even when I've not smoked for almost a year, I don't feel my memory is at the level it was before the weed.
Honestly, it's bothered me for years, but I've gotten over it. The bottom line in life is that you adapt or die. And furthermore, my personality, perspective, mannerisms, and desires and inclinations have changed from weed in a way that I don't know if I'd want to take it all back just to get into that previous frame of mind I had before the weed (though I think it would make some things easier). These days I rely on repetition and getting things into my long-term permanent memory. I've learned thousands of Spanish words since then, many complex songs on guitar, gotten a University degree, still been able to write kick-ass term papers and ace very tough classes.
Summary is this:
1. If someone has never used weed before, it is possible, though significantly less likely than than not, that smoking weed even once, will have some sort of impact on your memory, vocabulary, etc. (It seems to be most common among people who report that they have a very intimate connection to their internal memories).
2. I DO NOT WISH TO SCARE ANYBODY. I LOVE GETTING HIGH. I THINK I WILL DO IT AGAIN SOME DAY. I WOULDN'T TRADE MY EXPERIENCES FOR THE WORLD. But the fact is you CANNOT let these potheads tell you BS like: "WEED HAS NO PERMANENT EFFECTS THATS SCIENCE LOL DUMBAZZ". They are wrong. They are taking their experience and generalizing it to everybody, when they know good and well that everybody's individual reaction to a drug is unique.
3. Use weed if you wish. I've adapted to my situation. And in a way, I think if I wanted to, with enough practice in certain things, I could restore much of the strength of my working memory and the command I felt I had with English beforehand. But the fact is, there is no panacea. Nobody can tell me that I did not notice a permanent effect on my memory that has persisted from using marijuana, even once.
4. Hopeful note. The fact is, all my greatest intellectual achievements have occurred since I started smoking weed. I've read books since then - and comprehended them - that dwarf the caliber of books I read at that age. I've learned languages, learned music theory and guitar, done so much since then. Even while I was smoking weed I took up an exercise routine that was nothing short of extremely rigorous. All of these were actually inspired in ways by me for weed, or at least I used them in conjunction with my habit. I also learned to use discipline in ways I think I didn't use before because it forced me to adapt. And again, keep in mind that every day you grow, the world is getting more challenging around you. If school seems easy one year, suddenly developing a crappy memory is a bad thing of course, but you have to realize that the next year was going to be HARDER ANYWAYS, so you might as well start employing those techniques so that you can deal with the increasing challenges that will occur later in life.
5. Hopeful note. There is a study that says that occasional marijuana users have the highest increases in IQ since childhood, as compared to never-users and heavy-users (so keep that in mind).
6. Hopeful note. The brain is plastic well into adulthood. Google: intense prep law school brain structure. Sometimes, when I've studied heavily, practiced games and things that require me to TRY HARD to use my memory, this cloudy feeling seems to fade somewhat. I remember a few weeks ago particularly feeling good, not as though it was gone, but as though it was much better than before. So take hope.
Whatever it is you feel, accept it, digest it, move on. Continue to think about it, talk to others about it, but know you're not alone. And know that YOU CAN STILL DO ANYTHING YOU EVER WANT. TRUST ME. Even if the weed makes you feel "fuzzy in general", IT DOES NOT MAKE ANY SINGLE THING IMPOSSIBLE. If there is one thing in life you need, focus on that, and you can get to whatever level you need to for that.