The implications of late-life cannabis use on brain health: A mapping review and implications for future research

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While medical and recreational cannabis use is becoming more frequent among older adults, the neurocognitive consequences of cannabis use in this age group are unclear. The aim of this literature review was to synthesize and evaluate the current knowledge on the association of cannabis use during older-adulthood with cognitive function and brain aging. We reviewed the literature from old animal models and human studies, focusing on the link between use of cannabis in middle- and old-age and cognition. The report highlights the gap in knowledge on cannabis use in late-life and cognitive health, and discusses the limited findings in the context of substantial changes in attitudes and policies. Furthermore, we outline possible theoretical mechanisms and propose recommendations for future research. The limited evidence on this important topic suggests that use in older ages may not be linked with poorer cognitive performance, thus detrimental effects of early-life cannabis use may not translate to use in older ages. Rather, use in old ages may be associated with improved brain health, in accordance with the known neuroprotective properties of several cannabinoids. Yet, firm conclusions cannot be drawn from the current evidence-base due to lack of research with strong methodological designs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101041
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cannabis policies
  • Cognitive decline
  • Medical cannabis
  • Older populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Aging
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


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