A new study, published in Scientific Reports, has found that smoking high-potency cannabis is associated with memory impairments, according to Science Daily.
For the study, researchers of the Washington State University (WSU) observed cannabis users over Zoom, a video-telephonic and online chat service, as they smoked high-potency cannabis or vaped concentrates they purchased themselves in Washington state, where recreational use of cannabis is legal.
The researchers gave the participants a series of cognitive tests and found no impact on the users’ performance on decision-making tests. However, the team did find some memory impairments related to free recall, source memory, and false memories.
Lead researcher Dr. Carrie Cuttler of WSU said, “Because of federal restrictions to researchers, it was just not possible to study the acute effects of these high-potency products.”
“The general population in states where cannabis is legal has very easy access to a wide array of high- potency cannabis products, including extremely high-potency cannabis concentrates which can exceed 90% THC,” she added, “and we’ve been limited to studying the whole plant with under 10% THC.”
For the study, Dr. Cuttler and her team found a way to study the effects of high-potency cannabis by complying with all federal guidelines.
The investigators found no effect on the decision-making tests, including risk perception and confidence in knowledge, per Science Daily.
There was also no significant difference between the cannabis and sober groups, including prospective memory, the ability to remember things, such as an appointment. In fact, the cannabis participants did well on temporal order memory.
However, the participants that smoked cannabis flower with CBD did worse on verbal free recall trials; they were unable to recall as many words or pictures that the sober group.
In addition, the participants who used cannabis without CBD and concentrates performed worse on memory tests. They were not able to distinguish the way previously learned information was presented.
Furthermore, those who use cannabis did poorly on a false memory test.
“There’s been a lot of speculation that these really high-potency cannabis concentrates might magnify detrimental consequences, but there’s been almost zero research on cannabis concentrates which are freely available for people to use,” Dr. Cuttler said.
“I want to see way more research before we come to any general conclusion,” she added, “but it is encouraging to see that the concentrates didn’t increase harms.” The article was published in Science Daily.