Cannabis contains at least 60 types of cannabinoids, chemical compounds that act on receptors throughout our brain. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s effects, including the euphoric high. THC resembles another cannabinoid naturally produced in our brains, anandamide, which regulates our mood, sleep, memory, and appetite.
Essentially, cannabinoids’ effect on our brains is to keep our neurons firing, magnifying our thoughts and perception and keeping us fixed on them (until another thought takes us on a different tangent). That’s why when you’re high, it’s really not a good time to drive, study for a test, or play sports that require coordination, like tennis or baseball. Like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, cannabinoids also affect the levels of dopamine in our brain, often resulting in a sense of relaxation and euphoria.
A 2012 review of available research, however, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, finds that the immediate impairments on memory and concentration, at least, aren’t likely permanent: