By Paul Armentano, NORML
Medical cannabis administration is associated with improved cognitive performance and lower levels of prescription drug use, according to longitudinal data published online in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.
Investigators from Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and McLean Hospital evaluated cannabis on patients’ cognitive performance over a three-month period. Participants in the study were either naïve to cannabis or had abstained from the substance for at least ten years. Baseline evaluations of patients’ cognitive performance were taken prior to their cannabis use and then again following treatment.
Researchers reported “no significant decrements in performance” following medical marijuana treatment. Rather, they determined, “[P]atients experienced some improvement on measures of executive functioning, including the Stroop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test, mostly reflected as increased speed in completing tasks without a loss of accuracy.”
Participants in the study were less likely to experience feelings of depression during treatment. Many significantly reduced their use of prescription drugs. “[D]ata revealed a notable decrease in weekly use across all medication classes, including reductions in use of opiates (-42.88 percent), antidepressants (-17.64 percent), mood stabilizers (-33.33 percent), and benzodiazepines (-38.89 percent),” authors reported – a finding that is consistent with prior studies.
Patients in the study will continue to be assessed over the course of one-year of treatment. Researchers will assess whether these preliminary trends persist long-term.
As more studies uncover the health benefits of cannabis, medicinal users are finding new ways to consume, the most popular being portable vaporizers.
Full text of the study, “Splendor in the grass? A pilot study assessing the impact of marijuana on executive function,” appears in Frontiers of Pharmacology.