Cannabis and the brain: Know the facts

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Organization: Health Canada

Published: 2019-04-12

Cat.: #H14-312/2019E-PDF

ISBN: #978-0-660-30068-9

Pub.: #180882

Did you know? The brain continues to develop until the age of 25 and some compounds in cannabis (e.g., THC) can change the way brain cells communicate with one another. Find out how cannabis compounds can affect different parts of the brain.


The occipital lobe processes vision, spatial cues, and movement.
Impact of cannabis:

  • visual perception
  • ability to judge distances

Movement and coordination

The cerebellum controls movement and coordination.
Impact of cannabis:

  • feelings of dizziness
  • a loss of balance/coordination

Thinking, planning and decision-making

The hippocampus registers and stores memories.
Impact of cannabis:

  • memory loss
  • difficulty learning new things
  • difficulty making decisions

Feelings and emotions

The limbic system regulates emotions.
Impact of cannabis:

  • feeling happy, excited, calm
  • feeling anxious, depressed, paranoid

Integration of Information and perception

The thalamus integrates and helps make sense of information.
Impact of cannabis:

  • loss of coordination
  • changes to sleep-wake cycle
  • psychosis or schizophrenia (in those who are vulnerable)

Feelings, emotions and behaviour

The nucleus accumbens regulates motivation and is part of the brain's pleasure and reward system.
Impact of cannabis:

  • feeling "high" when using
  • developing a dependence on or addiction to cannabis

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