The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has just awarded researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder nearly a million dollars to study the effects of habitual dabbing on the brain’s cognitive functions, as reported by the University’s website. The study is believed by UCB to the first of its kind and is expected to shed light on the misunderstood, but very popular practice of dabbing marijuana concentrates.
Research is being headed by UCB’s Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS) and that organization’s wonderfully named assistant research professor Cinnamon Bidwell. Bidwell says he hopes to give the first quality, controlled data on using cannabis extracts. “In the context of a research study, nobody has assessed how intoxicating these are or studied the effects on public health behaviors such as driving,” he said.
Specifically, the study will look analyze how prolonged periods of dabbing can affect cognitive practices like planning, working memory, divided attention, and selective attention. Researchers will perform cognitive tests and take blood samples from concentrate-using volunteers to gather data. “The volunteers are doing what they would in their normal life and then we are recording data from that,” Bidwell said. “In that way, we are able to study real-world usage patterns.”
Since federal guidelines block the researchers from either providing marijuana products to test subjects or even being present while their subjects use marijuana products, the study will have to ask that subjects come into their pharmacology lab high after using in on off-site location. A little complicated, but it’s the best they can do until federal laws change.
Ideally, the increase in dabbing data will lead to a more thoughtful and nuanced treatment of the practice by both doctors and lawmakers. A heavily-cited article from BuzzFeed published last year proclaimed in its headline that “Hash Oil Is Weed’s Next Big Thing And No One Knows If It’s Safe.” The piece pointed out that the popularity of dabbing preceded any real qualification of its efficacy and safety by the medical community, a problem UC Boulder and ICS hope to remedy.
Hopefully the change will also curb state lawmakers from making arbitrary changes to their concentrate laws like earlier this month when the state of Colorado raised the amount of butane allowed in its extracts by 525 percent and other contaminants by more than two hundred thousand percent.