Giving up cannabis for 30 days helps improve memory: Study

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Looking to improve your memory? You might want to take a break from smoking the green stuff.

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry revealed that a 30 day break from smoking marijuana resulted in improved memory for participants between the ages of 16-25.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital monitored 88 participants from the community and a local high school who reported cannabis use at least once a week. After randomly assigning participants to four weeks of marijuana abstinence, subjects were given regular thinking and memory assessments, as well as urine tests to ensure participants were adhering to the study’s guidelines.

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The study concluded that those who gave up marijuana were better at storing and recalling new information compared to subjects who continued toking.

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The study’s lead author, Dr. Randi Schuster, PhD, says the study reveals two pieces of evidence regarding young people and marijuana use.

The first is that adolescents learn better when they are not using cannabis,” Schuster explained. “The second — which is the good news part of the story — is that at least some of the deficits associated with cannabis use are not permanent and actually improve pretty quickly after cannabis use stops.”

Given the recent legalization of marijuana in Canada and several U.S. states, Schuster says it’s important to create marijuana prevention programs for high school students and young adults. The study notes that more than 13 per cent of middle and high school students in the United States reported cannabis use, with rates of daily use increasing between grades 8 and 12.

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“The ability to learn or ‘map down’ new information, which is a critical facet of success in the classroom, improved with sustained non-use of cannabis.” Schuster said. “Young cannabis users who stop regular – weekly or more – use may be better equipped to learn efficiently and therefore better positioned for academic success. We can confidently say that these findings strongly suggest that abstaining from cannabis helps young people learn, while continuing cannabis use may interfere with the learning process.”

Schuster and her team will be furthering their research by conducting a follow-up study that will include participants as young as thirteen-years-old and measure findings against participants who have never used cannabis.

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