Is It Okay to Smoke Pot After a Brain Injury?


I had a brain injury more than two years ago. Among other symptoms, I lost my sense of smell. What I’m wondering — as un-PC as this is — is whether I can still get high if I smoke marijuana.


Some people lose some or all of their sense of smell after a traumatic brain injury. However, there is no relationship between losing your ability to smell and the effects that marijuana have on your brain. You should also be aware that marijuana can be especially harmful after a brain injury.

There are many reasons not to use alcohol or illicit drugs, including marijuana after a brain injury. If you use drugs or alcohol, you could:

  • Not recover as fully or as quickly
  • Have more problems with concentration, memory, or balance
  • Increase your risk of seizures
  • Increase your risk of having another brain injury.

So, the bottom line is that whether you can smell or not, you shouldn’t being using marijuana.



Posted on BrainLine November 15, 2010. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Comments (189)

Please remember, we are not able to give medical or legal advice. If you have medical concerns, please consult your doctor. All posted comments are the views and opinions of the poster only.

Simple question...
Can I smoke hydro if I'm post brain surgery 20 years ago and take dilantin to avoid grand mal seizures ??

I smoke weed almost everyday even though the bleeding on my brain wasn’t as bad. I was in a car crash and put in a coma about a month ago. Ever since I got out I been smoking weed and I’ve had no effect to it.

Ever since I had a sTBI 5 1/2 years ago, I get really paranoid and I hate when people tell me I have to find the right strain. I got a med card before the car accident so it was active for a few years after I tried different edibles, different strains, low THC, everything had the same negative effect of paranoia and my facet fracture pain would flare up which doesn't make sense but my brain was all sorts of messed up and I know it got completely rewired

Since I was 8 I’ve had a Cranial Fracture that thankfully I don’t have any symptoms for, that is until I smoked pot for the 1st time. I don’t know what pot does to the brain exactly, but my theory is that it may have an inflating/swelling effect on the brain. So...

Pot Caused me to “trip”. Super hard. My vision was impaired, my brain would black out every 3 sec. my brain would wake up to process my thoughts and then black out again. And the depressed area on my head “was on fire”(that’s what it felt like). I couldn’t speak right, and i mean i had major speech impediment. And I couldn’t retain any information.

These effects lasted about 3-5 days, with subtle long term symptoms of the same kind that lasted about a year.

I don’t recommend smoking pot w a brain injury. Regardless It’s not all that great anyways.

Does anyone know how to fix my skull though?

What is a facet fracture?

I’ve just recently suffered a TBI fractured skull and cheekbone. I had minor bleeding on my brain. Luckily I didn’t need surgery. Before my injury I was a daily user but I noticed after I smoked a few times I felt very strange and weed just makes me feel different haven’t been able to smoke which is probably for the best.

I had internal bleeding i cracked my skull from the inside from falling off a car . I had hit the concrete road . This was october 31 2019 right on Halloween day n till this day ive been trying to smoke pot but it makes me feel weird like its not my normal high like it use to be . Like i feel lost and i cant really concentrate im always serious . I was wondering what yall feel??

I just get more high

A few months ago I suffered a hit to the head which resulted in my skull cracking inwards and cutting my brain. I had surgery and only now have I started to smoke bud again. I’ve found now if I’m smoking it outside of the house or if I’m with people I’m not close with then my paranoia is so out of control and I just stay in that fight or flight mode until I’ve had time to calm down away. The only way I can smoke it and have a good high again is if I’m alone or with very close friends.

How this was reviewed in 2018 and not removed is beyond me , completely the wrong message , especially given the large amount of evidence there is to debunk the main assertion of the article

I tried smoking pot after my TBI and it made all my symptoms much worse. HOWEVER, I used a homemade CBD tincture (no THC) and it was literally the only thing that would reduce the pain and symptoms I was feeling. Now that I'm 4 years away from my accidents, I smoke pot, but not too much, just a puff or two is all it takes, AND I still use my homemade CBD occasionally.

I was wondering when I could again. I had a tbi around 1 year ago and the doctors said no drinking for 2 years, so I assume smoking too. I’m afraid if I smoke right now my symptoms could get worse also

I have a TBI, I have seizures, and I feel "doped up" on all this medicine, I was 18 when I got hit by a drunk driver while I was in my car, when I smoke weed I just feel "sober", I dont get high, I get freedom from a brain injury, I take 2,200 milligrams of brain injury med a day, marijuana helps so much! Help please! I need freedom from this seizure disorder, and everything else.....make this legal for at least these reasons, please let me know if it's going to be legal in Georgia??? Help now, please, Skeet

I am not all too sure about this article and the proofs of this exact article. I think moderation is key to anything you do no matter what it is. I had a diffuse axonal brain injury grade 3 I fell from a bridge 25 feet. I was in a coma and had to relearn how to walk. I am 11 months almost since the fall. and I have broken the official 1-year rule however only 11 months and I use cannabis and I personally think it is helpful. Moderation is key.

Did u suffer from light sensitivity? I am 11months into my tbi and im still light sensitive.

Can you vape after tbi really need to know cause I'm tryna quit smoking

My question is can you smoke cigarettes after brain injury

I got a brain injury from a car accident. Lobectomy, all that s***!! Hydrocephalus, shunt, seizures all the time. 14 antiepileptic meds a day and seizey poos still happening. Added medical marijuana, going on 4 months Seizure free. It works!!

My boyfriend has TBI with memory loss, gets lost everywhere, among other things. He’s great when he’s not smoking, clear thinking and even wakes up and talks about things from days and weeks before on his own without prompting.
When he smokes, it’s hard to speak with him and he needs supervision, like complete fog, memory loss is exasperated, cannot even take the dog for a walk, and does not think smart whatsoever.

That’s what pot does to you. It’s a downer and makes you lazy but also helps with a lot of other things. It really depends on how much you smoke and what kind you smoke

I had a clot on the frontier of the Amygdala and left parietal lobe - never stopped smoking herb. I have been aware and always looking for answers. Before the stroke, I considered weed to be a PED? Could always go downhill on wheels or edge better stoned! Maybe it has led to some dumb decisions after? It is a benevolent drug. Other drugs make it hard to get it up. Have you ever heard of a violent crime involving only Mota? I believe that it stimulates creativity and focus? I am not a scientist; but only, a curious surviver. Sometimes my emotions are hyperactive. I don't think weed is the perp. Fight on brothers and sisters, we only get one turn.

I have a relative who has experienced a TBI Traumatic brain Injury. He really wants to smoke pot at night. He says it helps him sleep at night. I am concerned that this will slow and even halt his recovery from the TBI. He is 35 years old. I keep telling him how bad it is and he still says it helps him sleep at night. Very confused on what to do to help him properly.

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

My son has right frontal lobe damage and has trouble staying employed due to his impulsiveness. Does cannabis help those of you with right temporal lobe injuries control impulsiveness (speaking without thinking?) Acting without thinking? Thinking through the consequences of your actions before making the wrong decision?
Does it help to control anxiety and angry outbursts?

I have witnessed worsened impulsivity and disorganization in my relative with severe TBI. Very frustrating to witness. As a person without a brain injury, I remember smoking pot and then getting loads of ideas I could not organize well enough to do anything with them.

This article contradicts Everything that is now known about cannabis, , which is that it is actually very helpful in both preventing and treating brain injury. Who is this guy who wrote this article?

He's a PhD and has 3 different roles in Ohio Institutions including the Ohio State University, all dealing with brains. People want to say big pharma wants all the profits but I've seen people spend hundreds on weed here in CA. The weed industry puts out things that make them look good but they just need more true double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center trials, and then have to repeat the study to prove the first study didn't happen by chance. Maybe because he's older he doesn't like weed for the connotations it is starting to get over. Maybe he really just doesn't want people to do what he's clinically seen. They say science is never final and we just don't have enough studies with brain injuries as described above.

I recently had a brain aneurysm which the doctors called a subarachnoid hemorrhage stroke. Is it ok to try marijuana edibles?

If you're concerned about smoking, edibles cross the blood/brain barrier too and edibles make me and a few of my friends paranoid and lasts WAY too long if you do get paranoid from it.

I had the same thing ..all I wanna know is will I mess up if I smoke marijuana again? I've stop drinking, and stop smoking cigarettes. My stole was on August 19, I haven't did either since. My b'day is Wednesday the 6the and I wanna smoke.

For me TBI happened 7 months ago spent 17 days in two hospitals 3 days in a coma 7 in an ICU unit. I'm still recovering. I smoke cigarettes didn't while in there. I have smoked pot for a long time but since this injury I have only smoked very little but has help me to eat sleep and not be so irritated with myself or life as a whole..if you know your limits trying it may not be so horrible.....

I had the same thing, a TBI with a subarachnoid hemorrhage. I have smoking to alleviate the headaches.

Dear Dr. Corrigan,

I'm wondering if CBD oil ( without THC) will help a survivor of a TBI with frontal lobe damage. i have a son that acquired an alcohol problem many years after his TBI.

I would appreciate any information, links, contacts, etc. on TBI and CBD oil.

Thank you,

I’m not a professional by any means and this may not help. I developed alcoholic tendencies after traumatic brain injury and have been suffering since. Genetically I’m prone to alcoholism but I never had such intense cravings until after my head incident. Praise the Lord I did not die or become paraplegic after my accident. I have been smoking marijuana since my injury in 2008 and it has helped immensely. With legality of the product throughout the years I have been able to use pot to help with brain injury and quit alcohol. With love to TBI sufferers may you find peace -B

Hi B,
Thanks for your reply, it's much appreciated. I just posted again but it's not showing up yet. I have some questions about impulsiveness and employment when one has right frontal lobe damage. My son cannot stay employed due to impulsiveness with his words (out of turn and inappropriate comments.)Once said, he is well aware he should not have said whatever he said. Navigating social situations is super hard for him. Now he tends to prefer to be alone more than not. I would love your input if you have experienced this yourself.

- ❤ ❤ ❤ -

I have a TBI from being knocked out and falling and hitting my head on the concrete sidewalk. I had to have emergency surgery on the left side for the hematoma and inside bleeding. It has been 1 year now. My headaches and pain are every day. They very from a throbbing to stabbing pain that rate a 1 or 2 for my good days to a 7 or 8 on my bad days. I cannot take lyrica or gabapentin due to side effects. I currently take butalbital - acetaminophn and Excedrin migraine when I cannot stand the pain. I tried the edible pot because everyone said it helped. I do not think that is the answer for me. I am prone to having seizures for the rest of my life now. It did help me sleep better, but I still woke up with pain. Also when I tried it during the day, It caused me to slur my speech and make head feel like it was moving when it wasn't.
I say try what you thinks help, but be ready for side effects and be willing to try other things too. I think pot is more natural and better for the body, but it is not a cure everything.
There are evidence-based studies coming out to show presence of a positive THC screen after TBI is linked to better outcomes (lowered mortality) and trauma patients with THC in their system experienced fewer secondary affects from their trauma (ie: reduces inflammation).

I suffered a mTBI with multiple body injuries as well. The combination of post-concussive syndrome, PTSD and cognitive dysfunction was crippling. I take an (nardil) MAOI for the depression and have with double vision. I still see a therapist who's completely on board with me using marijuana to ease my symptoms... I think this doc is full of crap. He has no citations for reference to his information. What I have, and many here too, is permanent brain damage which makes taking any oral medication a crap shoot. I have zero response to pain meds, hyper response to muscle relaxers. Why take an RX with all the side effects, like memory loss, when CBD handles my pain and marijuana helps me sleep through the night. I wake up fresh. Consult an MMJ doc for advice for your specific injury if you like. Friends, It just works!

I don’t completely agree with this doctor I received a tbi when I was 15 I’m now 27 I’ve been on so many medications I couldn’t function I finally got off some of them but I still have a lot of problems I just recently tried marijuana and found that it helped my tremors and my anxiety tremendously I haven’t had any seizures in years but haven’t had a problem since I started the marijuana and haven’t felt any sort of odd side effects from it although I would be careful and not buy it off the street from any random person but sometimes you have to use your own commen sense and not believe everything the doctors tell you especially when it comes to medication

I was in the Army for 16 yrs and suffered a major head injury during one of my deployments, orbital fractures and at the bottom base right side of my skull. Then kept deploying jumping out of airplanes etc. and had minor head injuries since. Been retired about two medical for TBI PTSD, I’m down to 600 Mg a day of oxcarbazepine and 100 mg of trazodone for sleep. I keep bouncing on and off Mary to stop, but same deal no nothing for feelings. Nothing towards family just a hulk. I get a 20 take three hits and I can hear myself come to life again, I can feel emotions again, apply sympathy and empathy to people because of my experiences in the world, I am a productive, healthy happy member of society that understands and doesn’t lash out like an animal. I have never had this relief in my life. When I was in high school, I got blazed, ripped Cheech and Chong style. Now I can walk with Jesus because I can see life in my family and my self again. God help us all. Amen.

Thankyou for this comment

As of 3 Nov 2018, I became a moderate/severe TBI survivor. The anti-seizure meds I was on were killing me. Edible cannabis saved my life. I literally believe that I would be dead now, had I been without it.

I was on 1500mg keppra (seizure meds) a day, and like you said the marijuana edibles made me be able to walk again. The CBD is the main thing that you need from weed, it has more of the healing properties. THC is more the psychedelic high, which can also help with problems

Tell it it is George
I was on Dilantin 8 x 200 mg then asked to be switched to Phenobarbital an started having Aura's and only way to stop them ? .. Take a toke an I was fine
have also seen that Marijuana does not affect You if You have TBI .. but actually helps You an have seen it does So now days dont Belive everything You .. read

Hey, glad to hear you're making it work.


Absolutely retrograde. No science. He just says it and we're expected to accept it uncritically. I would not assume the responsibility of recommending it to others, but my very smart neurologist is tacitly in favor of it. I know when I'm having a bad day, a little bit of cannabis does wonders for my pain and my mood. And I know that some studies suggest moderate marijuana use after a TBI actually favors neuroplasticity. Experts! God deliver us from them!

I got hit by a drunk driver when I was a teenager. I have a brain injury and a seizure disorder. I take a lot of different kinds of meds. When I smoke weed I feel sober. I don't get high like I used to just feel normal. When will marijuana be legal for my help? I'm 38 now and I was 18 years old when I got my brain injury, why does weed help so much? Why can't I get it as a medicine? Brain injury is hard to live with. I don't get high I get sober I don't feel brain injury. Why do I need weed to feel better from my brain injury?

Suffered a TBI after being hit by a moving vehicle. I noticed the same thing. I don't get high from it any more. They put me in duloxetine and a bunch of other crap to help with restless legs and anxiety and now my number one medicine isn't even effective. I ha e had bobbing swaying and rocking sensations for months.

yes Bob, I'm with you. Pot and CBD oil help my mood, depression, and anxiety/panic and pain. man made poison made me want to kill myself. did time in the psyc ward. I'll take what God has grow and given us. big pharma pays off the government and feed you poison to keep you hooked until you die. in the meantime they have a customer for life. thanks, but no thanks

They nearly killed me at a state run psychiatric outpatient facility I went to here in Connecticut. Misdiagnosed me had me on lithium carbonate combined with other drugs which are known to be very dangerous combinations. Gave me brain damage. The only thing that I find helps a little bit now is cannabis. I agree with you.