New studies challenge some longstanding myths about cannabis and its effects on driving and motivation, while others examine cognitive function, cancer and CBD in cats
In recent weeks new research has been published exploring the relationship between cannabis and driving impairment, motivation and cognitive function in schizophrenia.
Meanwhile scientists have been investigating the prevalence of use among cancer survivors and whether CBD is safe for cats.
CBD is safe in healthy cats
While researchers have begun exploring the effects of CBD in dogs, few studies so far have examined whether it is safe for our feline friends. New research aimed to address this knowledge gap by testing the safety and tolerability of CBD distillate in clinically healthy cats.
In the randomised placebo-controlled blinded studies, cats were given either a placebo oil or 4 mg/kg body weight of CBD oil, both groups received regular veterinary examinations and assessment of haematology, clinical biochemistry and urinalysis.
Over a 26 week period, the dose of 4mg/kg of body weight was found to be ‘well-tolerated’ by the cats.
The authors conclude: “THC-free CBD fed at a dose of 4 mg/kg BW was absorbed into plasma and well tolerated when supplemented over 26 weeks in cats. However, caution should be applied, and veterinary checks recommended, if any history of liver issues is known or in the event of suspected concurrent infection.
“There is also further need for determining efficacy of CBD doses to improve our understanding of CBD and its use in cats.”
Almost half of US cancer survivors used cannabis
A recent survey has found that the prevalence of cannabis use is high among cancer survivors in the US, with many reporting great improvement in their symptoms.
In a cross-sectional survey of 1,886 cancer survivors, 17.4% were current users, 30.5% were former users and 52.2% had never used cannabis.
Among survivors who currently or formerly used cannabis, the reasons for cannabis use in cancer management were; sleep (60%), pain (51%), stress (44%), nausea (34%) and mood disorder/depression (32%). About a fifth of those surveyed also used cannabis to treat their cancer.
The authors conclude: “Prevalence of cannabis use among survivors was notable, with most reporting a great degree of symptomatic improvement for the specified reason for use. However, only a few were aware of the health risks of cannabis use during cancer management.
“With more cancer survivors using cannabis as a palliative in managing their cancer-related symptoms, future guidelines and policies on cannabis use in cancer management should incorporate cannabis-based interventions to minimize the inadvertent harm from cannabis use during cancer treatment among survivors.”
Cannabis, driving and older adults
A new study is the latest to investigate the effects of cannabis and blood THC levels on driving—this time in older adults.
A total of 31 regular users of cannabis aged 65 to 79 years completed the study. Participants operated a driving simulator before, 30 minutes after, and 180 minutes after smoking cannabis or after resting.
The findings showed that weaving was increased and mean speed decreased at 30 minutes but not 180 minutes after consumption. Blood THC was increased 30 minutes after smoking, but THC levels “were not correlated” with weaving or speed. Participants’ subjective experience and self-reports of impaired driving lasted for 3 hours after consumption.
According to the authors, the mean potency of cannabis chosen by participants (18.74% THC) is higher than that which has previously been studied.
They conclude: “The present study provides an ecologically valid demonstration that cannabis can impair driving in older adults when they smoke their usual product. Consistent with emerging data, blood THC level was not correlated with driving behavior. Older drivers should refrain from using cannabis when contemplating operation of a motor vehicle.”
Effects of cannabis on cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia
Researchers in Morocco examined the effects of cannabis on cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia.
The study recruited 50 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia who were cannabis consumers, and 49 schizophrenia patients who were not.
The results suggest that patients who did not use cannabis “performed better in the test of psychomotor function, attention and verbal memory”. Meanwhile those who did, “performed better in the test of working memory, visual memory and emotional recognition”.
The authors conclude: “Our results suggest that cannabis use may have different effects on neurocognitive functioning. It is associated with disorders of psychomotor function, attention and verbal memory. So, it is associated with an improvement in working memory, visual memory and emotion recognition.”
Cannabis not linked to ‘amotivational syndrome’
More research has been published busting the well-known myth of the ‘lazy stoner’ stereotype.
In a review of studies published in the last five years researchers looked at the association between acute and non-acute cannabis use and motivation, using questionnaires and task-based measures.
Three studies found that cannabis use was actually associated with a higher willingness to expend effort for reward, while two found ‘no differences’ between cannabis users and controls. Most self-report data also found ‘no difference in motivational outcomes’.
In two acute studies cannabis ‘reduced participants’ willingness to expend effort for reward compared with placebo’ and there was evidence of an association between apathy and cannabis dependence, according to the authors.
They conclude: “While cannabis may lower motivation acutely, recent non-acute studies do not support claims of an amotivational syndrome in people who use cannabis. However, there is some evidence of an association between cannabis use disorder and apathy.”
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