ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2012) — A major downside of the medical use of marijuana is the drug's ill effects on working memory, the ability to transiently hold and process information for reasoning, comprehension and learning.
Researchers reporting in the March 2 print issue of the Cell Press journal Cell provide new insight into the source of those memory lapses.
The answer comes as quite a surprise: Marijuana's major psychoactive ingredient (THC) impairs memory independently of its direct effects on neurons. The side effects stem instead from the drug's action on astroglia, passive support cells long believed to play second fiddle to active neurons.