Cannabis research roundup

Here's a quick breakdown of a few of the more interesting cannabis research articles to be published recently

Cannabis-related research is on the increase. Every month dozens of new studies get published, covering a wide range of topics from clinical trials to use demographics, molecular mechanisms, developmental effects, cognitive function, genetic vulnerability, novel medical applications, animal research, archeology, and so on.

The steep rate of publications prevents us at Lift from discussing all the novel findings in detail. Nevertheless, here are some recent studies that we think are still worth mentioning in brief:

Cannabis use among pregnant women

A survey found that a worrisome 36 of 306 (12%) pregnant women report continued cannabis use. In comparison, 71 women (23%) who had been regular smokers quit smoking immediately after finding out they were pregnant. Most women believe cannabis to be detrimental to pregnancy, although most of those who quit do it to avoid being a bad example. Thirty women (10%) stated they would use cannabis more frequently if it became legalized. (Journal of Addiction Medicine)

THC leaves long-lasting traces that are picked up by fMRI machines

Chronic cannabis users show general and regional changes in patterns of cerebral blood flow and oxygenation after 72 hours of abstinence. This could have big implications for imagiology research and medicine. (Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology)

New method for cannabis genetic identification

Researchers were able to match cannabis samples by counting short sequences of DNA that are repeated many times in the plant’s genetic code. This method, which is already used for forensic human DNA analysis, could be easily adopted by law enforcement agencies. (Journal of Legal Medicine)

Individuals at high risk for psychosis are more likely to use cannabis

A meta-analysis confirms what was already known: individuals at high risk for developing psychosis have higher rates of cannabis use and cannabis use disorder compared to healthy controls. Among individuals at risk, cannabis use is also associated with more severe cognitive symptoms like suspiciousness and unusual thoughts. (Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica)

No evidence yet that cannabis leads to shivering following general anesthesia

Prompted by anecdotal reports, a team of Caribbean researchers compared the frequency and intensity of postoperative shivering in cannabis and non-cannabis use. Although a slightly higher prevalence and intensity was observed among users, the data did not reach statistical evidence. Overall, this is a good reminder of the shortcomings of anecdotal evidence and of the fact that research is not always conclusive. (Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing)

No links between cannabis use and treatment outcomes of PTSD patients with other drug addictions

Cannabis use before the start of psychological therapy was not associated with the severity of PTSD symptoms or primary drug use at the end of treatment. Strangely enough, current cannabis use was associated with worse PTSD symptoms at the beginning of treatment, but with a better symptomatology by the end. Moreover, changes in cannabis use in one week were followed by opposite changes in primary drug use in the next week (and vice versa). The authors argue that these findings give partial support to harm reduction approaches to drug addiction and mental disorders. (Journal of Clinical Medicine, free access)

Cannabidiol reduces alcohol consumption and relapse in mice

The administration of cannabidiol (CBD) led to a drastic reduction in the preference of alcohol over simple water (from 90% to about 60%). In a subsequent assay, the authors demonstrated that CBD reduced alcohol self-administration, but did not change water consumption. In addition, CBD also curtailed the  relapse after a five-day period of alcohol deprivation. Finally, the authors identified several changes in gene expression that might explain these effects. (Journal of Addiction Biology)

Featured image via Max Pixel.

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