Researchers have uncovered evidence confirming the perceived tolerance effect of continued cannabis use, the PsyPost reports. The double-blind study — named “Reduced responsiveness of the reward system is associated with tolerance to cannabis impairment in chronic users” and published in the Addiction Biology journal — used brain imaging scans to measure the substance’s effect on 12 frequent and 12 occasional cannabis users.
Study co-author Natasha L. Mason said in the report there is “a growing body of evidence” that cannabis’ effects are less prominent in regular cannabis users.
“Although this development of tolerance is quite well established,” she said, “the neurobiological mechanisms underlying it are not.”
“These neurobiological mechanisms are important to elucidate, both in the context of therapeutic use of cannabis-based medications (e.g. deciding on dose in long-term treatment), as well as in the context of public health and safety of cannabis use when performing day-to-day operations (e.g. developing traffic laws).” — Mason, via PsyPost
For occasional users, the researchers noted that cannabis use altered the brain’s reward system circuitry. Chronic cannabis users, meanwhile, did not show specific brain changes or “any cognitive impairment.”
“Cannabis tolerance is not a final, permanent state that is achieved after chronic cannabis use, but rather a temporary state of decreased sensitivity to cannabis exposure that dynamically fluctuates across the spectrum of a full-to-no experience of cannabis effects, depending on the pattern of cannabis use,” Mason told PsyPost.
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