As of June 2022, 37 US states have passed medical cannabis laws and 19 states have legalized recreational cannabis. Cannabis has proven beneficial for a range of conditions such as childhood seizure disorders, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite in people with HIV/AIDs.
While public perception that cannabis is a harmless substance is growing, the long-term benefits and risks of cannabis use remain unclear. However, one consistent pattern of research has emerged: heavy long-term cannabis use can impact midlife cognition.
The impact of cannabis on cognitive impairment was greater than that of alcohol or tobacco use.
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Long-term cannabis users’ IQs declined by 5.5 points on average from childhood, and there were deficits in learning and processing speed compared to people that did not use cannabis. The more frequently an individual used cannabis, the greater the resulting cognitive impairment, suggesting a potential causative link.
The study also found that people who knew these long-term cannabis users well observed that they had developed memory and attention problems. The above findings persisted even when the study authors controlled for factors such as dependence on other drugs, childhood socioeconomic status, or baseline childhood intelligence.