smoke weed all day

What happens when you smoke marijuana every day for five years

FOR almost a decade, Stuart Angel smoked pot for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is what pot really does to your brain and body.

February 4, 2016 6:29pm

New research indicates smoking marijuana will effect short-term memory. Picture: iStock. Source:istock

FOR eight years, Stuart Angel would “smoke cones” for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Smoking “around one or two grams” of marijuana each day from the age of 18, Mr Angel said the enjoyment of weed “for a laugh and to get high” soon became an uncontrollable obsession.

“Whenever I was home, I was smoking,” Mr Angel, 25, told

“When I first started, it went from twice a week, to three times and then fulltime. On a workday, I’d get up, have a shower and have a few cones. I’d have a coffee, then a few more cones before work.

“If I was leaving really early, I would even have a joint on the walk to work when the streets were quiet.

“If I was close to home at lunchtime, I’d even go back on my break and smoke. Then after work, I’d have more.”

Stuart Angel was smoking 1 or 2 grams of marijuana a day before his son, Lucas, was born. Picture: Supplied. Source:Supplied

This week, the University of Lausanne in Switzerland revealed in a 25-year study that if you smoke a lot of marijuana, over a long period of time, it may have an effect on your verbal and short-term memory. This means, you may forget more words than someone who doesn’t smoke as much, or even at all.

Lead researcher, Professor Reto Auer, examined data on marijuana habits of almost 3500 Americans over a 25-year-period.

Following thousands of young adults in to middle age, Prof Auer and his team of researchers discovered long-term marijuana use is linked to poorer performance on verbal memory tests, and Mr Angel couldn’t support the results more.

“Even when I smoked, I always had a great long term memory,” Mr Angel said.

“But my short term memory has really suffered. When I was smoking, I would say something, and then get distracted. I couldn’t focus when I smoked, not even for 10 minutes. Now I can focus for much longer periods of time.

“From when I started smoking until now I struggle to remember particular things. I don’t remember smaller details or the circumstances, I just remember the action. I need a photo to jog my memory about certain events, like things my son did, which is really sad,” he said.

Almost 35 per cent of people aged 14 years and over have used cannabis one or more times in their life. Picture: iStock Source:istock

The research looked at repeated measures of marijuana exposure and a test of verbal memory, which examined how a candidate processed speed and executive function.

The participants, who started the study in the mid ‘80s, were all aged between 18 — 30 years old.

Of the 3499 participants, more than 80 per cent of the group admitted to smoking marijuana during the first year of the study. Fast forward 25 years later, just 12 per cent continued to smoke in to middle age.

The results, which were published in the JAMA Internal Magazine, found that for every additional five years of cannabis exposure, a user would remember one less word from a list of 15, compared to someone who didn’t smoke at all.

“Recreational marijuana users use it to get high, to benefit from the transient change it produces,” Prof Auer said.

“But this transient effect might have long term consequences on the way the brain processes information and could also have direct toxic effects on neurons.

Prof Auer said in order to avoid impairments, users should give up the drug sooner rather than later.

Stuart and his son Lucas. Picture: Supplied. Source:Supplied

Mr Angel said the eight-year addiction turned his mind to mush, stripping him of his natural intelligence as a child.

Since quitting marijuana in 2015, Mr Angel hopes his vocabulary and short term memory will strengthen with time, and now he will be a better role model for his son, Lucas.

“I woke up and was feeding Lucas one day and thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be affected by drugs.’ I looked at him and never wanted Lucas to be 25 and his main focus was being high, like mine was, instead of fulfilling his full potential.

“I wanted to be a role model for my son, and I want him to be proud of me — a dad who taught him right instead of wrong.”

Lucas wants to be a better role model for his son, Lucas. Picture: Supplied. Source:Supplied

“As a kid, I was really smart growing up,” Mr Angel said.

“Today, my vocabulary and using syntax is starting to come back as I read more, but at the time when I was smoking, I would sit there for a minute or two thinking of how to put a sentence together. My mind went to mush.

“I don’t have a typical stutter now, but I do still struggle with speaking. I think it will get a little better, but not by much.”

Currently working in installation, and studying sport science through correspondence at university, Mr Angel said the other big problem with his cannabis addiction was how it formed a gateway in to other drugs.

“If I wasn’t smoking, I couldn’t face the day. If I didn’t smoke when I first woke up, I was looking for a way to get high or find weed,” he said.

“Smoking was a gateway to other drugs, like pills and ecstasy, that went to cocaine, I tried ice a few times.

“It kept perpetuating the cycle, because I figured if I could handle weed, why couldn’t I handle something harder.

“The longer I quit for the easier it all becomes.”

Those who smoke cannabis for five or more years had poorer verbal memory in middle age than those who smoked less, or not at all. Picture: iStock. Source:istock


In Australia, almost 35 per cent of people aged 14 years and over have used cannabis one or more times in their life.

Despite what would seem only a small effect to your vocabulary, senior research officer at National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, Dr Peter Gates said “any impact on a person’s cognition is concerning”.

“The impairment in these studies is alarming, and verbal learning is one of the more consistently found impacts,” Dr Gates told

“The two biggest things that relate to impairments is how young and how frequent you smoke. If you look at tests between those who use and those who don’t, it’s the verbal learning that takes the longest to get back when a user stops.

“It effects more than mental health. There’s respiratory and cardiovascular health, and in terms of dependence, it can take over your life and impairs your quality of life.”

Although the study didn’t look at long-term effects, Dr Gates said more research is required when looking at the impact cannabis use has on users.

“It was great the study looked at an area that doesn’t have a lot of research,” he said.

“A study that looks at years of use are fairly infrequently done as you need to access certain data bases.

“We know that a user who stops smoking cannabis will see positive cognitive effects within the month, like working memory, attention span, ability to learn and blood flow in brain.

“We really need more assessments like this. It’s important to show people what happens when they use over a period of time, but we also need to look at what happens when they stop.

“It still remains unclear of the long term effects of cannabis use, particularly when looking at short-term or occasional users.”

Individuals who currently have concerns or problems related to their cannabis use can access the free National Cannabis Information and Helpline on 1800 30 40 50 or head to National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre.

Marijuana: Heavy Users Risk Changes to Brain

A new study finds that heavy marijuana use by adults could have long-term effects on the brain. What kinds of effects? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

FOR eight years, Stuart Angel would “smoke cones” for breakfast, lunch and dinner.