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Your brain on marijuana But new research in young people suggests that these cognitive effects, while significant, may not persist for very long, even among chronic users. The meta-analysis, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatrycombines data from 69 previous studies that look at the effects of heavy cannabis use on cognitive functioning in adolescents and young adults.
It found that those young people who identified as heavy marijuana users scored significantly lower than non-users in a variety of cognitive domains such as learning, abstraction, speed of processing, delayed memory, inhibition and attention.
That could be an indication "that some of the effects found in previous studies may be due to the residual effects of cannabis or potentially from withdrawal effects in heavy cannabis users," Scott said.
Read More The study comes as America continues to debate the merits of marijuana legalization. Recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical marijuana use, with at least three additional states potentially deciding on the issue in the upcoming November election, according to Melissa MooreNew York deputy state director for the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance.
Studies on the long-term cognitive effects of marijuana use among adolescents and young adults have shown inconsistent results.
A study reported that frequent or early-onset cannabis use among adolescents was associated with poorer cognitive performance in tasks requiring executive functioning, attention and episodic memory. A study also warned against the use of marijuana during adolescence, when certain parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning -- such as the prefrontal cortex -- are still developing.
We want there to be little effect after 72 hours. But given the other studies that have had very large sample sizes that have been published over the past five years in prominent journals, I think we need to look into that more," added Sabet, whose group is focused on the harms of marijuana legalization.
Marijuana legalization could help offset opioid epidemic, studies find But a number of recent studies have also shown that the association between marijuana use and reduced cognitive functioning disappears after controlling for factors such as psychiatric illness and substance use disorders, according to Scott.
In an attempt to make sense of these discordant results, the new research combined data from 69 previous studies, resulting in a comparison of 2, frequent marijuana users with 6, non-users.
Participants ranged in age from 10 to 50, with an average age of The researchers found that, overall, the cognitive functioning of frequent marijuana users was reduced by one-third of a standard deviation compared with non-frequent marijuana users -- a relatively small effect size, according to Scott.
Of these, only the length of marijuana abstinence was found to significantly affect the association between chronic marijuana use and reduced cognitive functioning.
Specifically, cognitive functioning appeared to return to normal after about 72 hours of marijuana abstinence -- a threshold identified in previous studies, according to Scott.
The studies also relied on a variety of tests to determine cognitive functioning, including the Trail Making Test, the Digital Span Memory Test and the California Verbal Learning test, according to Scott.
But the results still suggest that the negative cognitive effects of marijuana use, while significant in the short-term, probably diminish with time. They also shed light on the need for more research in this area, particularly as cannabis policy in the United States continues to change at a rapid pace.This report examines the effect of providing two years of free, full-day preschool on the labor force participation of women with young children.
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