Washington State University researchers conducted a study that was published this week in Scientific Reports.
The study was conducted by by researchers at the school and examined the effect high-potency cannabis could have on the memory of its users.
This subject was not previously examined at length by U.S. scientists.
The study is shedding a light on how the substance, which is legal in Washington state, might impair memory and other recall functions.
“As scientists we were a bit concerned when these concentrates appeared on the market when we’ve never been able to study their effects,” said Carrie Cuttler, a psychologist at WSU. Cuttler had served as the study’s lead researcher. “And we can’t study their effects according to all the federal guidelines and barriers in place.”
By tapping into technology, the team was able to research the drug’s effects.
The researchers’ study examined 80 people divided into four groups: 20 were sober; 20 vaped cannabis concentrates with more than 60 percent THC; 20 used cannabis flower that had at least 20 percent THC; and 20 used cannabis flower that had both THC and CBD.
After consuming cannabis, researchers administered a series of cognitive tests to the participants.
“We were interested in comparing the relative effects of these very high potency cannabis concentrate products,” Cuttler said. “The ones we were using in this study had to have at least 60 percent THC.”
She added “It had fewer effects than we were anticipating, especially because we were getting into these very high potency products (that) researchers in the United States, at least, have largely been banned from studying.”
The researchers found some memory impairments related to free recall, source memory and false memories.
The researchers also discovered something that had not been expecting for the participants who used the cannabis concentrate with more than 60 percent THC.
“What we found is that the participants who were using the cannabis concentrate took significantly fewer hits, so they used a lot less of the drug,” Cuttler expained.