The debate around the cognitive effects of long-term cannabis use continues to gain traction. While some studies suggest a decline in IQ and cognitive abilities among persistent users, others point to potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids like CBD. But how conclusive is this evidence?
A study indicates that long-term cannabis users could experience an average IQ decline of 5.5 points since childhood. This decline is associated with learning and processing speed deficits, particularly in frequent users, hinting at a possible causative relationship. Yet, it’s essential to consider the complexity of such findings. The question arises: Are there other factors at play that could influence these results?
Defining the legal parameters of cannabis, marijuana is identified as a plant containing over 0.3% THC by weight, known for its intoxicating effects. Conversely, hemp has 0.3% or less THC, potentially offering therapeutic benefits without the high. This distinction is critical when considering the impact on cognitive functions.
CBD, a compound found in cannabis, is known for its anxiety-reducing potential. However, marijuana consumption, particularly the dried flowers and leaves of the plant, can induce short-term cognitive issues, such as problems with memory, executive functions, and psychomotor abilities.
The role of cannabis in pain relief is also under scrutiny. The possibility that the effectiveness of cannabis in pain management might be partly attributed to a placebo effect cannot be disregarded. This introduces an element of uncertainty regarding the plant’s analgesic properties.
Interestingly, CBD has been acknowledged for its anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to alleviate neuropathic pain, as noted by the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research. Additionally, its potential in preventing relapse in drug and alcohol addiction has been highlighted in a 2018 study.
Further investigations by Salk scientists reveal cannabinol (CBN)’s neuroprotective qualities against oxidative damage, a notable cause of cellular death. Meanwhile, substances like 2-AG in the brain, similar to components in marijuana, have been discovered to calm seizures but may also bring about post-seizure challenges.
The stigma surrounding medical marijuana is diminishing, particularly among older adults, with a reported increase in usage. This demographic shift brings attention to the evolving perceptions and potential medical applications of cannabis.
To understand the comprehensive risks and benefits of legalized cannabis, institutions like Johns Hopkins are actively contributing to the ongoing discourse. It’s evident that while there are concerns regarding mental health, particularly in individuals with a family history of psychosis or schizophrenia, the full scope of cannabis’s impact remains a subject of ongoing research.
In summary, while there are indications of both risks and benefits associated with long-term cannabis use, the scientific community continues to explore these findings with a cautious lens. The definitive impact of cannabis on cognitive health, especially in midlife, remains a complex puzzle, warranting further investigation.
Cognitive effects in midlife of long-term cannabis use
Cannabis and the Brain | Harvard Medical School
The effects of marijuana on your memory – Harvard Health
Does cannabis actually relieve pain — or is something else going on?
7 Potential Health Benefits of Cannabis – Johnson & Wales University
Risks and Benefits of Legalized Cannabis – Johns Hopkins
Active ingredient in cannabis protects aging brain cells
Marijuana-like brain substance calms seizures but increases
Older adults and medical marijuana: Reduced stigma and increased use