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Medical Marijuana Improves Executive Function in the Brain

Medical Marijuana Shows to Improve Executive Function in the Brain

Unlike recreational marijuana, medical marijuana has benefits that haven't been fully tested out — until now. 

Despite that medical marijuna derives from the same plants as recreational marijuana (cannabis), MMJ products have unique cannabinoid constituents and ratios that aren’t typically sought in recreational users, according to researchers. 

A new pilot study recently investigated the impact MMJ has on cognitive and executive performance, which has shown to have different side effects than recreational marijuana. 

After three months of evaluations, participants saw a faster completion for basic tasks, as well as an improved clinical state, general health, and even a decrease in their usual medication intake, including opiates, which was reduced by 42 percent between the first and second check-up. 

Prior to the study, researchers tested the participant's neurocognitive battery as well as measures of clinical state, quality of life, sleep and general health assessments. They came in in for regular check-ups, which were then used to calculate progress, and all of them were told to use MMJ products at least once a day. 

For decades, marijuana has been a divisive issue in America, mainly because of its negative impacts in the brain due to recreational use — and they're not entirely wrong. According to the study, a growing body of evidence suggests recreational MJ use adversely impacts the brain, particularly during critical periods of neurodevelopment, including adolescence. 

But this research suggests a wide contrast between recreational MJ and medical marijuana.

Even though there is more research to be done, it is safe to say that MMJ does not lead to the same neurocognitive consequences MJ does, as the study suggests. While recreational users frequently site an alteration in mood: typically a mellow state of mind, MMJ products are used for its therapeutic effects. 

THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in MJ, and its potency has increased in the last twenty years from 4 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2014, says the study. However, MMJ users seek benefits relating to symptom alleviation. It’s main ingredient cannabidiol, or CBD, which is not psychoactive. 

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David Artavia