STORIES

MMJ Might Make Patients Smarter

By David Jenison on February 13, 2018

No one's quite sure what mental health disorders afflict the president, but a new Frontiers in Pharmacology study suggests the tangerine tornado might benefit from medical cannabis (MMJ). 

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Tufts University and McLean Hospital looked at the impact of MMJ on cognitive function and related brain activation as part of a larger longitudinal study. Prior to initiating MMJ treatment and again after three months of treatment, patients with diagnosed medical conditions completed a Multi-Source Interference Test (MSIT) while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Per the findings, the patients apparently got smarter. 

"Following three months of treatment, MMJ patients demonstrated improved task performance accompanied by changes in brain activation patterns within the cingulate cortex and frontal regions," the study argued. 

The MSIT test, by the way, involves more than simply naming the lion, rhino and camel in drawings.

Moreover, the study produced a result that seemed to surprise the researchers. "Interestingly, after MMJ treatment, brain activation patterns appeared more similar to those exhibited by healthy controls from previous studies than at pre-treatment, suggestive of a potential normalization of brain function relative to baseline," said the study. 

The MMJ patients also reported improvements in "clinical state and health-related measures as well as notable decreases in prescription medication use, particularly opiates and benzodiazepines."

To recap, the research findings—which the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reviewed and accepted—found that the patients performed better on cognitive tasks, demonstrated improved health and took fewer dangerous prescription drugs after being treated with medical cannabis for only three months. Moreover, the same cognitive improvements were limited to medical use, not recreational, which reinforces the efficacy argument for medical cannabis as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. 

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