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Cannabis Has Less Effect on Youth Cognitive Function than Previously Believed



[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]O[/dropcap]ne of the primary arguments against cannabis is the belief that it is harmful to young people who consume it, and that it causes long-term mental impairment. Although many states have legalized recreational cannabis for adult use, others have expressed concern that cannabis is too too accessible to young people, and even more concerns have been voiced about the possible harms of consuming medical cannabis in young children. Now, a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that cannabis is actually not as harmful to young people as previously believed.

CNN reports that the new analysis combines data from 69 previous studies to look at how cannabis affects young adults and their cognition. “There have been a couple of meta-analyses done in adult samples, but this is the first one to be done specifically in adolescent and young adult samples,” said Cobb Scott, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a lead author of the study. “We looked at everything from learning and memory to different aspects of executive functioning such as abstraction ability, and we basically showed that the largest effect—which was around a third of a standard deviation—was in the learning of new information and some aspects of executive functioning, memory and speed of processing.”

However, it was determined that these effects lessened after 72 hours, implying that while all of these functions are impaired for young people at the time that they cannabis cannabis and shortly after, the effect only lasted for a few days, instead of for life, as many have claimed. “Some of the effects found in previous studies may be due to the residual effects of cannabis or potentially from withdrawal effects in heavy cannabis users,” Scott added.

More research still needs to be done on how cannabis affects the brains of young people to be able to determine if it in fact does not impact long-term cognition. However, this is a landmark study for those looking to legalize or make medical cannabis readily available.

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