Cannabis and Cognitive Functioning Essay

1492 Words 6 Pages
Cannabis and Cognitive Functioning
The debate concerning recreational and medical use of cannabis has historically been incredibly controversial and its popularity is increasing. Many claim that there are no downsides to its use, often falling back on the “alcohol is worse for you” argument, while those who oppose its use say otherwise. In 2013, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) surveyed 70,000 Americans 12 years and older and found that 7.3% of Americans regularly used marijuana in 2012, showing a rise in use over the last several years. While cannabis is still considered an illegal substance in the majority of the country, several states are beginning to shift their views, allowing for the use of
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This would suggest that the main effects of cannabis must be cognitive.
The “high” that is achieved from recreational use of cannabis is an altered state of mind that is characterized by emotional changes such as mild euphoria and relaxation as well as perceptual changes such as time distortion and changes in sensory experiences (Tart, 1970; Jones, 1980; Jaffe, 1990; O’Brien, 1996). Often times, especially for inexperienced users, there are reports of feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, and depressed mood. During acute intoxication, concentration, short-term memory, motor skills, reaction time, and motor coordination can become impaired, making it difficult to maintain goal directed mental activity (Hollister, 1986; Jaffe, 1990; O’Brien, 1996). Emrich et al. (1991) showed that binocular depth inversion is hindered by cannabis, which suggests that the central nervous system is unable to correct unrealistic sensory input while intoxicated. Altered perception of time has shown to be incredibly prevalent during acute intoxication. This has been measured with two tasks: time production and time estimation. Time production tasks involve the subject being asked to indicate when a specified time interval has passed while a time estimation tasks involves the subject being asked to estimate the duration of a specified duration of time. Both tasks have shown inhibition of cognitive

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