Research: Regular marijuana users suffer less impairment than occasional users

By chillinwill · Sep 2, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    It may be time to re-think the way we envision the typical stoner-type personality portrayed in the media. Recent research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology shows those impacted most by any negative neurocognitive effects of marijuana are actually occasional users, not those who regularly consume marijuana.

    The research reported in the article, “Neurocognitive performance during acute THC intoxication in heavy and occasional cannabis users” examines various types of cognitive and motor performance in relation to consumption of marijuana. Using 24 participants (12 regular cannabis users, and 12 occasional cannabis users), the researchers studied multi-tasking attentiveness, motor-skill competency, decision-making, and visual-motor tracking ability.

    The results showed the group of regular cannabis users’ performance on the tasks was only affected in regard to motor impulse control (reaction time) when high concentrations of marijuana were consumed. On the other hand, the occasional users’ abilities to perform critical tracking tasks, multi-tasking, as well as motor impulse control tests suffered significantly within the first hour after consumption of cannabis.

    The study also reported on the significance of time decreasing the negative performance effects of cannabis on occasional users. Unlike the significant drop in performance levels occurring within the occasional user group in the first hour after cannabis consumption, regular cannabis users appear to show little shift in ability over the eight hour period following cannabis consumption with the exception of reaction time.

    This all leaves to question, who really acts like a stereotypical marijuana smoker that we see portrayed even by those within the movement? The ones who say dude and man a lot. Is it the regular consumer, or the occasional smoker? Whatever the case, this research shows that those who suffer most, cognitively speaking, from marijuana consumption are non-regular users.

    Angela Macdonald
    August 31, 2009

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  1. Joe-(5-HTP)
    I really can't make sense of all the seemingly conflicting medical information about cannabis...
  2. coelho
    Well... for swim this is not news... he is a regular cannabis smoker, and noticed that when he started to smoke his skills were actually impaired, but after a while he somehow learned to "function" even when stoned.

    Nowadays, when he is stoned he can function as well as he could when he didnt use it.

    But it seems it is somehow related to the tolerance. When he takes a break and smokes after it, his skills get a bit impaired again, as if during the break his brain had "unlearned" a bit how to function when stoned... but after a couple of smoking days, he gets his stoned working skills again.
  3. Nature Boy
    Unfortunately, many politicians probably have the same problem. I'm guessing a good handful of them might consider legalising pot, only they're confused by the evidence. We hear unlikely pros against age-old cons. It might prevent certain cancers, cure hangovers and isn't that bad for people who smoke it every day, yet we hear about occasional users getting panic attacks and so on (though I'm quite sceptical about the numbers involved and the actual causations of these negative side effects).

    Basically, the argument needs to be moved away from these speculative ideas. Although SWIM smokes cannabis pretty regularly and doesn't see any major harm in doing so, he's resigned to changing his method of argument. We need to get back to the argument that hits hardest, and that is, economics!

    People smoke pot and pay good money for it. But pot is illegal meaning a lot of money is unaccounted for. We're in a global financial crisis and we need to pinch every penny we can get. Instead of taxing soda cans and sticks of chewing gum, tax pot! Casual smokers will exchange legality for a few tax dollars so it spins plenty of revenue for governments to improve public transport, healthcare or whatever.

    Feel free to Talk to Frank but Frank doesn't actually matter. He can piss and moan about little Timmy's anxiety problems but fixing the economy is a much larger, more important problem. If someone can still argue against that, chances are they're a creepy fundamentalist on a one man mission to rid the planet of the evil weed in order to satisfy their Jebus.
  4. Matthijs85
    So basically, this study says that people who get stoned more often, can perform better on certain neurocognitive tests when they are stoned than people who only get stoned occasionally.
    To me this seems just common sense, but it is nice it is confirmed by a study :)
  5. Lehendakari
    24 participants and no control group? It may be good news but the study is sketchy if you ask me
  6. nibble
    That's certainly a good angle to take but I don't think cannabis derived tax revenue would even put a tiny dent in the amount of money the Irish economy for example needs to fix itself. The principal however is a good one, it adds another argument for legalisation.

    Yes, very true. There are many such sketchy pseudo-studies both showing cannabis in a positve light and a negative one. I think the problem is that genuinely solid studies cost a lot of money to execute and the financial backing isn't there for them.
  7. Terrapinzflyer
    What was the point of this "research" ?? Bit of a no brainer- regular users of virtually any substance will be less impaired by moderate doses then the occasional user. No non-using control group was used to judge neuro effects from the frequent user groups- turtles gut feeling is it would show impairment in some categories but ~possibly~ improvement in some.
    As to the "sterotypical stoner saying 'dude' and 'man' " comments in the report, turtle thinks this is completely irrelevant to the research done. In turtles experience, this is more the real of young and immature heavy pot smokers, or those that have been burned by more then thc over their life...
  8. coelho
    Well... swim did think about this but couldnt figure out what could be a control group in this study, and how could it influence the results.
    (Swim thinks a control group made of non smokers would not be helpful).
    So, could swiy explain please?
  9. Lehendakari
    A control group would be useful to clarify wether results are statistically significant or not. With 12 participants of each group results can be highly dependant on age, sex, social and educational background, health, personal skills etc..

    The results of this study or research mean absolutely nothing
  10. Bajeda
    I think thats overstating things.

    That said, the media is generally horrible with reporting on any kind of scientific research, tending to exaggerate or inaccurately describe the actual claims made by the researchers.
  11. Nature Boy
    That's where I disagree. The entire Irish economy is rigged around alcohol prices. The minimum wage compared to the cost of living is so poor that the vast majority of young people have no incentive to work therefore they mooch off social welfare. And where does most of that money go? Straight back into off-licenses and over-priced pints in pubs. It's a blatantly obvious web of corruption. Legalising weed would put a much needed dent in the Fianna Fáil backbenchers and the Irish Vintners Association's monopoly.
  12. imyourlittlebare
    Neuropsychological tests have standardized results. A control group would have been unnecessary when one knows what the average results are for the population. If anything, only having 12 occasional users and 12 regular users may have skewed results making regular users seem to perform alright. Either way, these results have to be taken with a grain of salt. Plus there are other obvious variables not controlled for such as I.Q., education, and socioeconomic background. The only way to find if there is any strong effects either way is to do a meta-analysis of literature that exists on this subject.
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