Marijuana's effects on human cognitive functions, psychomotor functions, and personality

J Gen Psychol. 1986 Jan;113(1):23-55. doi: 10.1080/00221309.1986.9710540.


Marijuana is complex chemically and not yet fully understood, but it is not a narcotic. Like alcohol, marijuana acts as both stimulant and depressant, but it lingers in body organs longer than alcohol. Smoking marijuana can injure mucosal tissue and may have more carcinogenic potential than tobacco. Research has indicated that marijuana intoxication definitely hinders attention, long-term memory storage, and psychomotor skills involved in driving a car or flying a plane. Expectations and past experience with marijuana have often influenced results more than pharmacological aspects have. Marijuana has triggered psychotic episodes in those more vulnerable. Psychological and some instances of physiological dependence on marijuana have been demonstrated. As a psychoactive drug, marijuana surely alters mental functioning. Although it is possible that chronic use of marijuana produces irreversible damage to mind or brain areas, this has not been determined by research.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / drug effects
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dronabinol / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology*
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Personality / drug effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Research
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology


  • Dronabinol