Research: Regular marijuana users suffer less impairment than occasional users

(By Angela Macdonald, September 2 2009 )  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.

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.

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