Study: Recreational Cannabis Use May Protect Against Cognitive Decline

A recent study found that non-medical cannabis use is “significantly associated with 96% decreased odds” of experiencing cognitive decline in adults aged 45 and older.

Full story after the jump.

A recent study published in the journal Current Alzheimer Research found that recreational cannabis use is “significantly associated” with reduced cognitive decline in adults aged 45 and older.

For the study, researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University in New York set out to determine whether there was any association between cannabis consumption — including the reason, frequency, and methods behind such consumption — and subjective cognitive decline (SCD). The study relied on self-reported data from 4,755 U.S. adults aged 45 and older who participated in the 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. 

Researchers concluded that neither cannabis use broadly nor specific methods of cannabis use are associated with cognitive decline. However, perhaps unexpectedly, non-medical use was “significantly associated with 96% decreased odds of SCD,” per the study’s abstract.

The study’s co-author Prof. Roger Wong, Ph.D., MPH, MSW told that the study’s “main takeaway is that cannabis might be protective for our cognition, but it is really crucial to have longitudinal studies because this is just a snapshot of 2021.”

“We do not know if non-medical cannabis leads to better cognition or the other way around if those with better cognition are more likely to use non-medical cannabis. We need longitudinal studies to see long term if non-medical cannabis use is protecting our cognition over time. That’s something we don’t know yet, but that research is hindered since cannabis remains illegal federally.” — Wong, via

The researchers noted that the observed effects of cannabis could be attributed to multiple factors, such as different cannabinoid makeups. Additionally, cannabis is frequently used to overcome troubles with sleeping or stress, which are both risk factors for increased cognitive decline as we age.

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