Study Finds Marijuana Users Have Better Cognitive Skills Tags: marijuana cognitive skills legalization study

The arguments about marijuana have raged on for a long time; should it be legalized? Can it help people manage pain? Is it addictive? Should it be classed the same as other much harder drugs? There have been many studies done into its different affects and uses, but it has generally been agreed upon that marijuana impairs user’s cognitive abilities, now there’s a study that seems to disprove that.

The Study

The study in question can be found here. The researchers, in 2014, at the University of Minnesota, compared the test results of those not using marijuana, with those who had been using since before the age of 17. The results found no difference in memory or verbal learning in the two groups, the users scored lower in tests on decision making, engagement and verbal memory, but the study claims users scored better when it came to processing speeds.

Criticisms of this Study

  • There were only 35 people in each group. This is a relatively small group, and cannot be said to give a true representation of users generally.
  • Everyone tested was between 18 and 20, it is stated that this is because those are the ages when marijuana is thought to affect cognitive abilities most, but no referencing is given to support this, nor is it fully explained for how long these people have been users. 
  • The group was told not to use for 12 hours before the study. While this is a fair way of testing in this case, generally those that use marijuana daily, won’t ever go 12 hours without, so will be affected differently.
  • No mention is made to the IQs of these people, how do we know the marijuana users weren’t just more intelligent than the other group?
  • The study seems to gloss over the fact that users scored lower in many areas, calling them “discrete” impairments. These impairments include verbal memory and decision making. These seem like quite important cognitive skills. This to me implies the researchers could be bias towards a use of marijuana. 

Further Discussion

All this study really suggests, is that more study is required to fully understand how marijuana use affects cognitive abilities. To give any definitive proof, more people would need to be tested, as well as different age ranges of people (perhaps against non-users in the same age bracket as themselves). It would also be useful if the users could be tested both while under the influence, and after a much longer period without. if these studies were done, there could be more definitive evidence of marijuana’s effects on cognitive abilities.

If you have an interest in healthcare issues such as these, and hold a relevant degree, you might want to consider a doctor of nursing practice online degree course to further your learning.

Marijuana usage will continue to be discussed, and researched for a long time, at the moment there is a lot of conflicting evidence and opinions. If you would like to be a part of this research, look into a doctorate in nursing practice.

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