Article by Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post via Toronto Star
Recreational marijuana use is now legal in eight states plus the District of Columbia, giving public health researchers more leeway than ever to investigate some of the foundational underpinnings of cannabis culture: How much weed is in a joint? What happens to your brain when you get high?
And now: Are chronic marijuana users really more relaxed than everyone else?
You might be surprised to learn that the research to date on this question is mixed. One recent study found that while low doses of THC (the active chemical compound in pot) helped people cope with stressful situations, moderate to higher doses actually made people stress out even more.
But that particular study simply measured the effects of a single dose of THC — what about the effects of repeated heavy cannabis use?
Enter new research from Washington State University, recently published in the journal Psychopharmacology. The study recruited two groups of 40 people: One group had used marijuana nearly every day for at least a year, and the other comprised people who weren’t marijuana users.
Half of each group, users and non-users, was subject to a particularly anxiety-inducing laboratory test commonly used to measure stress responses: They had to dunk their hands in a container of cold water for anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds, and then count backward from 2,043 by 17, getting reprimanded by lab workers whenever they got a number wrong.
As if that weren’t bad enough, they were also shown a live video feed of their faces as they attempted to count.