Senior citizens who use medical cannabis to treat chronic pain do not show evidence of cognitive decline, according to a study from Israel’s Haifa University School of Public Health outlined by the Jerusalem Post.
The study included 125 cannabis users aged 50-and-older – 63 with and 62 without government permission to use cannabis – whose psychomotor reaction, attention, new learning, and working memory was tested while both under the influence of cannabis and sober.
“These results suggest that use of whole plant [medical cannabis] does not have a widespread impact on cognition in older chronic pain patients. Considering the increasing use of [medical cannabis] in older populations, this study could be a first step towards a better risk–benefit assessment of [medical cannabis] treatment in this population. Future studies are urgently needed to further clarify the implications of late‐life cannabis use for brain health.” – Medical Cannabis and Cognitive Performance in Middle to Old Adults Treated for Chronic Pain, Sept. 22, 2020, Drug and Alcohol Review
Dr. Sharon Sznitman and Dr. Galit Weinstein, two of the researchers who conducted the study, noted that while “previous studies have shown that medical cannabis can have long-term effects on the brain when consumed at a young age,” those effects “are not necessarily the same effect when consumed in old age.”
The researchers said their findings “may reduce concerns among physicians who deal with chronic pain and among patients suffering from it regarding the possible effects of cannabis on brain function.”