In a big loss for the writers of D.A.R.E. curriculums everywhere, a new study released findings of a test which suggest that using cannabis can increase cognitive function in the human brain. And these statistics didn’t come from some fly-by-night stoner researchers, but from just about the most smartest place in the country.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School affiliated McLean Hospital published results of a longitudinal study on what your brain on drugs really looks like. Research subjects were shown to complete a series of cognitive tests faster when they regularly imbibed mother ganja than when they were going cold turkey. No dip in performance accuracy was observed during these tests when subjects were using cannabis and, in some cases, accuracy actually increased.
This complicates the common opinion that marijuana dumbs you down, without totally contradicting it. “While there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that recreational marijuana use adversely affects brain function, particularly during periods of developmental vulnerability such as adolescence, critical questions regarding the impact of medical marijuana remain unanswered,” researchers said in a statement. “This new study, therefore, is an important first step in exploring the effects of medical marijuana on cognitive performance and other aspects of brain function.”
Research subjects were tested over the course of three months. Five women and six men were administered cannabis in various forms. Five of them smoked flower, six vaped flower, three used concentrates, three used tinctures, and three used edibles (these consumption methods weren’t exclusive, obviously). The participants used cannabis an average of 1.78 times per day, 9.3 times per week. They were given standard IQ tests and a series of other tests much like puzzles, then observed in their speed and accuracy with completing these tests.
In addition to showing an improvement in cognitive tests, subjects experienced other benefits while using marijuana. They also reported better sleep, overall health, and a major decrease in pharmaceutical drug use. “We saw a 42 percent reduction in opioid use,” Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital director Staci Gruber said. “This is significant, particularly for those of us in Massachusetts and other areas of the country where the opioid epidemic is ravaging so many. This preliminary finding certainly warrants deeper and broader investigation.”
But the study isn’t over yet. “While intriguing, these findings are preliminary and warrant further investigation at additional time points and in larger sample sizes,” the research article reads. The study is planned to continue for at least another two years, after which we’ll be even smarter when it comes to how smart pot makes you.
Image via Flickr user Soffie Hicks