A systematic review published today in the scientific journal Addiction has found that cannabis use produces acute cognitive impairments that can continue beyond the period of intoxication. This Canadian-led meta-review (review of reviews) has pooled the results of 10 meta-analyses representing more than 43,000 participants.
“We are ten million patients with pain. Let cannabis be an option”
The study has found that cannabis intoxication causes small to moderate cognitive impairments in areas such as decision making, suppression of inappropriate responses, learning through reading and listening, the ability to remember what is read or listens and the time needed to complete a mental task, indicates the Society for the Study of Addiction, of the United Kingdom, in a press release.
These and other acute disturbances reflect the residual effects documented for cannabis use, suggesting that the detrimental effects of cannabis begin while it is being used and persist beyond that period. Something similar to what happens with the consumption of alcohol, a substance that, unlike cannabis, is legal and socially accepted in many countries.
“Our study has allowed us to highlight several areas of cognition that are affected by cannabis use, such as concentration problems and difficulties with remembering and learning, which can have a considerable impact on the daily lives of users. “says Dr. Alexandre Dumais, a co-author of the study and an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal.
Cannabis use in youth may therefore lead to reduced educational attainment
— Study co-author
“Cannabis use in youth can therefore lead to reduced educational attainment and, in adults, to poor job performance and dangerous driving. These consequences may be worse in regular users.”
Cannabis is the third most used psychoactive substance in the world (after alcohol and nicotine) and adolescents, as well as young adults, have the highest rates of use.
“Recent global changes in the legalization of cannabis suggest that the public perception of its safety and acceptability is on the rise. Therefore, it is important to understand the cognitive risks associated with cannabis use, especially for young people, whose brains are undergoing significant developmental changes.
In the debate on the legalization of cannabis, its medicinal use plays an important role. Medical marijuana can be used to relieve pain (including chronic pain), control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients, and stimulate appetite, which is useful for people who do not eat enough and lose weight due to to other diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer.
Addiction is an international scientific journal that publishes monthly peer-reviewed research on alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and gambling, as well as editorials and other discussion articles. Owned by the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been published continuously since 1884.