Does Cannabis lead to better cognitive function?
The results of a recent study conducted by a research team from the University of Minnesota, USA, suggesting that cannabis impairs cognitive function, now look blatantly wrong. For many years, cannabis has been portrayed as a drug that negatively impacts the way our brains function and develop. It is partly why some refer to marijuana as “dope”.
New research would suggest otherwise. A group of daily marijuana users, who had all started using before they were aged 17, were asked to perform a series of tests – the results of which were compared to a control group of non-users. It was found that those who used marijuana regularly scored better on tests of processing speed and verbal fluency, (it is probably important to know that they were not high at the time of testing, but this mental acuity is a residual effect of use).
The researchers noted in the study, which was published this year in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, that “Marijuana users were high functioning, demonstrating comparable IQs to controls and relatively better processing speed”.
Although this is promising news, it’s not time to rejoice just yet. This experiment was small scale, with only 35 participants being used in each group. It would need to be replicated on a much larger scale to validate the significance of its results – but it is certainly an exciting start!
The research is also somewhat backed up by previous investigations published in 2011, which followed 2,000 young Australians for eight years of their lives, observing how they grew into adulthood. What they found shocked quite a few, and went in complete contrast to what society thought. Marijuana appeared to have no long-term effect on the memory and learning of those participants who used it. Whilst this does not show positive function at performing certain tasks like the most recent research, it does help show that there are little to no negative effects.
It begs the questions as to why we do not see this kind of research in more mainstream news. Is it because governments and media do not want to admit that they may have been wrong about weed? Either way, let’s hope continuing research into the field brings more positive news!