An evidence based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions

J Addict Med. 2011 Mar;5(1):1-8. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e31820c23fa.


Cannabis use has been shown to impair cognitive functions on a number of levels-from basic motor coordination to more complex executive function tasks, such as the ability to plan, organize, solve problems, make decisions, remember, and control emotions and behavior. These deficits differ in severity depending on the quantity, recency, age of onset and duration of marijuana use. Understanding how cannabis use impairs executive function is important. Individuals with cannabis-related impairment in executive functions have been found to have trouble learning and applying the skills required for successful recovery, putting them at increased risk for relapse to cannabis use. Here we review the research on the acute, residual, and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive functions, and discuss the implications for treatment.

Keywords: cannabis; cognition; executive functions; marijuana; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Cognition Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dronabinol / adverse effects*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Executive Function / drug effects*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / complications*
  • Marijuana Abuse / diagnosis
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology*
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*


  • Dronabinol