According to a brand new study, marijuana use could significantly dull emotional intelligence and processing.

The article appearing in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology suggests that chronic marijuana use may cause deficits in one’s ability to recognize emotional states in others. Thi sis what psychologists often refer to as emotional intelligence.

“From 2002 to 2017, adult population cannabis use has increased from 10.4% to 15%,” reported the research team led by Alyssa MacKenzie and Anita Cservenka of Oregon State University.

“These increases are concerning as a large body of research has reported that cannabis use may have negative impacts on cognitive functioning, learning and memory, processing speed, and attention. Additionally, there is an emerging research area suggesting cannabis use may affect emotion processing.”

The researchers had looked for existing research literature for studies exploring the link between cannabis use and emotion processing. They found 41 in total, most of them published in the last five years and identified some common themes, such as regular cannabis users demonstrating:

They also found evidence that the sub-components of cannabis, specifically THC and CBD, can influence emotion processing in different ways. For instance, one study found that THC increases anxiety in response to fearful social situations while CBD tends to decrease it.

“To our knowledge, this is one of the first critical review articles focused on an emerging research area of cannabis and emotion processing,” said the authors.

“Synthesizing the existing findings in this developing research field is important for future prevention and intervention studies focused on promoting healthy socio-emotional functioning in cannabis users.”

“Future studies are needed that categorize cannabis users by duration of use, age of cannabis use initiation, and frequency of daily use,” wrote the researchers.

“Overall, more research on individual differences is needed to determine the effects of sex, polysubstance use, and comorbid psychiatric disorders on socioemotional functioning, and studies should also expand to middle-aged and older adult cannabis users, as the majority of currently published research is limited to adolescents and young adults.”


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