By Derrick Stanley
Medical marijuana use is associated with improved cognitive performance and lower levels of prescription drug use, according to data published online in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.
Medical marijuana patients' cognitive performance was observed over a three-month period by investigators from Harvard Medical School, Tufts University, and McLean Hospital.
Participants in the study either were not cannabis users before or had not used the substance for at least 10 years. The patients' cognitive performances were evaluated before cannabis use, then again after treatment.
Researchers reported "no significant decrements in performance" following medical marijuana treatment. Instead, they determined, "[P]atients experienced some improvement on measures of executive functioning, including the Stroop Color Word Test and Trail Making Test, mostly reflected as increased speed in completing tasks without a loss of accuracy."
Participants in the study were less likely to experience depression during treatment, and many reduced their use of prescription drugs. "[D]ata revealed a notable decrease in weekly use across all medication classes, including reductions in use of opiates (-42.88 percent), antidepressants (-17.64 percent), mood stabilizers (-33.33 percent), and benzodiazepines (-38.89 percent)," authors reported