Adolescent cannabis use alters development of planning, self-control brain areas

Adolescent marijuana use may alter how neurons function in brain areas engaged in decision-making, planning and self-control, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The findings, which were presented at Neuroscience 2018, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, are the result of an animal model study focused on the structural development of the prefrontal cortex, or PFC, which controls high-level cognitive functions.

Within the PFC, a support structure called the perineuronal net forms a lattice of proteins around inhibitory cells, helping to secure their connections with excitatory neurons and regulate PFC activity. Perineuronal net formation is sensitive to drug use, but the effects of marijuana are not known.

Full story at Science Daily

More than one in ten heavy cannabis users experience withdrawal after quitting cannabis

As the number of Americans who regularly use cannabis has climbed, so too has the number of those experiencing cannabis withdrawal symptoms. A new study by researchers at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Irving Medical Center finds that 12 percent of frequent marijuana smokers experienced Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS), which includes emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms. The study is published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

CWS was first included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in its most recent edition, DSM-5, published in 2013. The new study is the first large-scale report on the link between CWS and DSM-5 psychiatric disorders among frequent U.S. adult cannabis users.

“In a rapidly changing landscape of marijuana laws and attitudes, cannabis use continues to increase among American adults. As a result, more information on the prevalence and correlates of clinical withdrawal in the general population is of critical importance,” said Deborah Hasin, PhD, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

Full story at Science Daily

Teen cannabis use is not without risk to cognitive development

Although studies have shown that alcohol and cannabis misuse are related to impaired cognition in youth, previous studies were not designed to understand this relationship and differentiate whether cannabis use was causal or consequential to cognitive impairment. A new study by researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine and Université de Montréal, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, shows that beyond the role of cognition in vulnerability to substance use, the concurrent and lasting effects of adolescent cannabis use can be observed on important cognitive functions and appear to be more pronounced than those observed for alcohol.

Beyond acute intoxicating effects, alcohol and cannabis misuse has been associated with impairments in learning, memory, attention and decision-making, as well as with lower academic performance. “While many studies have reported group differences in cognitive performance between young users and non-users, what had yet to be established was the causal and lasting effects of teen substance use on cognitive development,” said co-author and PhD student at Université de Montréal, Jean-François G. Morin. Senior author and investigator Dr. Patricia Conrod, from the Department of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal, added that “very few studies are designed to look at this question from a developmental perspective. Our study is unique in that it followed a large sample of high school students from 7th to 10th grade using cognitive and substance-use measures. Using this big-data approach, we were able to model the complex nature of the relationship between these sets of variables.”

Full story at Science Daily

How cannabinoid drugs affect the experience of pain

A first-of-its-kind meta-analysis of existing research has reviewed the effects of cannabinoid drugs on the experience of pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that up to 50 million people in the United States have chronic pain.

An increasing amount of people now turn to the medicinal benefits of cannabis for treating and alleviating pain.

As a result, scientists are trying to keep up by studying the effects of cannabinoids on pain.

Full story at Medical News Today

The effectiveness of online cannabis responsible vendor training program

To date, 6 U.S. states have implemented retail sales of recreational marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state. One important issue for these states has been how to implement training in responsible retail sales practices. Examples of how to accomplish this task successfully come from the Responsible Beverage Service trainings for selling and serving alcohol.

A new study on the quality of online responsible marijuana vendor (RMV) training has just been released. The study used an online RMV training that was developed in consultation with state regulators, store personnel, and local law enforcement in Colorado and Washington state. The training focused on knowledge of state statutes and regulations, ID checking, the health effects of marijuana, customer service practices (including recognizing intoxicated patrons), and rules of the trade

The curriculum was developed for a randomized controlled trial to test its efficacy for staff recruited from a random sample of 225 stores in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state. A total of 420 diverse store employees completed the online training. Then each trainee was given a survey about their experiences to gauge usability and trainee attitudes about the training.

Full story at Science Daily