The veil has been lifted and cannabis is finally being admired for its pure medical potency. In 2016, cannabis sales in the United States topped $6.56 billion. According to Statista, this figure will swell to $24.07 bil by 2025. Legal in 33 states for medical use, as well as 10 states and Washington D.C. for recreational purposes, cannabis reform is catching on pretty fast indeed.
Something that is greatly contributing to the increasing acceptance for weed is the emerging smorgasbord of scientific evidence that proves cannabis does not make you dumb.
Before legalization started to unfurl across the U.S. (and most recently, under Bill C-45, in Canada,) most of the population was uneducated on the benefits of weed. Rather, they were misled by Blockbuster movies such as “Cheech and Chong,” which promoted the green plant as a stoner’s best friend. While it is just that, there’s a whole lot more to weed than you probably know.
Terpene Found in Cannabis May Promote Memory and Alertness
An abundance of terpenoids, or “terpenes” as they are more commonly known, are crammed into the cannabis plant. These fragrant cannabis compounds are what gives the plant its flavor and aroma. Although certain terpenes produce effects that may magnify the high, some do quite the opposite.
A-Pinene is a prime example. Found in weed, rosemary, citrus peels, basil and conifer trees, this abundant terpene boasts anti-inflammatory properties, maximizes airflow to the lungs, improves memory and promotes alertness. Limonene may even counteract the psychoactive effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the mind-altering cannabinoid that gets you “stoned”.
Strains with a high limonent content will make the user feel uplifted, energetic and motivated, not to mention creative. An anti-cancer terpene, limonene may also improve short-term memory retention, thanks to its cerebral properties.
Study Reveals Cannabis’ Cognitive-boosting Ability
Cognitive skills are the essential skills that your brain uses to think, learn, read, remember and focus. If your cognitive skills are impaired, processing information will be much more difficult. Alzheimer’s disease (affects 50 million people worldwide) and Parkinson’s disease (affects 7-10 million people worldwide) are two conditions that correlate with loss of cognition. Both conditions qualify for medical cannabis in most weed-friendly states.
Cannabis will not negatively impact cognition, according to the results of a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, titled “Splendor in the Grass? A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of Medical Marijuana on Executive Function.” The study was a joint effort between Harvard University, Tufts University, and McLean Hospital.
3-month medical cannabis treatment illustrates positive effects
The cognitive abilities of 24 study subjects were tested over the course of three months. Despite the fact that only 11 patients returned once the testing phase was over, the results revealed a significant improvement in symptoms. All study subjects were medical cannabis patients with a diagnosis for chronic pain, anxiety, depression or some kind of sleep disorder. However, most of the patients experienced more than one of the aforementioned ailments/conditions.
In order to determine exactly how the 3-month medical cannabis treatment affected their cognitive abilities, the study subjects were asked to complete the Stroop Color Word Test. Additionally, they were asked to connect a series of numbered dots. These tests were also taken by the study subjects prior to being treated with plant medicine. After comparing each subject’s three-month scores with their original cognitive score, the researchers noticed improved performance and fewer mistakes. Moreover, the patients reported improvements in their symptoms and overall health.
“Symptom improvement may therefore result in improved cognitive performance,” wrote the authors. “Interestingly, two previous studies have noted a positive association between a history of MJ use and improved cognitive performance on measures of psychomotor speed, attention, working memory, executive functioning, and verbal learning in patients with bipolar disorder compared to patients without a history of marijuana use.”
Cannabis Use Could Trigger Creative Thinking
Sure, you’ll probably sink into the sofa and feel engulfed by feelings of euphoria if you try couch-locking strains, such as Godfather OG (the most potent strain on the planet; containing 34.04 percent THC content,) some strains will leave you feeling alert and creative. This was proven in a 2015 study from Leiden University in the Netherlands.
Study participants were tested on the following creative processes:
- Divergent thinking – A thought process/method by which the individual generates creative ideas after exploring the possible solutions.
- Convergent thinking – This term was coined by Joy Paul Guilford. It means to provide the “correct” answer to standard questions that do not necessitate any real creativity. An example would be a simple school task, such as a multiple-choice test.
Based on the outcome of the study, low doses of cannabis (5.5 mg of 19 percent THC) contributed to a modest increase in common traits of divergent thinking, such as originality, flexibility and fluency. Higher doses (22 mg of THC) however, caused a contrasting effect. This indicates the importance of proper, accurate dosing.
Smart Celebrities are Fans of Cannabis
There’s no denying the fact that celebrities tend to influence consumer behaviors. With the rise of legal weed, we are seeing a surge in ‘stars’ dabbling in cannabis. For example, former professional boxer Mike Tyson recently launched a 40-acre weed resort southwest of Death Valley and Willie Nelson has his own line of cannabis strains! Boxers and musicians aside, cannabis also appeals to the wisecrackers.
Founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, has admitted to puffing the herb – something that transportation technology entrepreneur Elon Musk enjoys doing quite frequently. The co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was partial to the odd edible, and even Barack Obama used to puff-puff-pass in the school playground! In addition to celebrity influencers, the results of existing and forthcoming clinical trials on cannabis will surely encourage more people to leave the stupid stoner stereotype where it is.