What is new in research on cannabis?
In this Research Roundup, we explore new studies on cannabis, including self-reported cannabis use during the COVID-19 pandemic and interventions for cannabis use disorder.
Comparison of Interventions for Cannabis Use Disorder
This randomized controlled trial compared the efficacy of brief intervention and simple advice in reducing cannabis use in individuals with cannabis use disorder. Divided into 2 groups—brief intervention and simple advice—both groups initially reported using cannabis for 30 days in the past month. The brief intervention group exhibited a significant reduction in the number of days of cannabis use compared to the simple advice group at 4, 8, and 12 weeks.
“In this population of regular cannabis users, brief intervention may be useful in reducing cannabis usage,” the investigators concluded. “It can be integrated into routine assessments and management of those with regular use of cannabis.”
Shekhawat AS, Mathur R, Sarkar S, et al. A randomized controlled trial of brief intervention for patients with cannabis use disorder. J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2023;14(4):710-716.
Dopamine Receptor D2 Availability in Cannabis Users Recovering From Psychosis
This study investigated dopamine receptor D2 availability in the striatum of recently abstinent cannabis-dependent individuals who had recovered from psychosis, comparing them with abstinent MDMA users and healthy controls. The research found no significant difference in dopamine D2 receptor availability in the caudate between cannabis users recovering from psychosis, MDMA users, and healthy controls. However, there was some evidence of reduced D2 receptor availability in the right putamen.
“The findings suggest that remission of cannabis-induced psychosis is not associated with hyper-dopaminergic activity,” the investigators concluded. “…The lower D2 receptor availability measures in the right putamen (uncorrected) may indicate residual effect of antipsychotic medication.”
Weinstein AM. A brain imaging study of dopamine receptor D2 availability in cannabis dependent users after recovery from cannabis-induced psychosis. Front Psychiatry. 2023;14:1230760.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Self-Reported Cannabis Use
This scoping review on cannabis use during the COVID-19 pandemic found that almost half of the studies reported an increase or initiation of cannabis use, with factors including younger age, increased symptom burden, mental health and substance use issues, pandemic-specific reactions (eg, stress, boredom), cannabis dependence, and policy changes (eg, legalization) associated with these changes.
“The pandemic has placed urgency on improving coping mechanisms and supports that help populations adapt to major and sudden life changes,” the investigators concluded. “To better prepare health care systems for future pandemics, wide-reaching education on how pandemic-related change impacts cannabis use is needed.”
Mehra K, Rup J, Wiese JL, et al. Changes in self-reported cannabis use during the COVID-19 pandemic: a scoping review. BMC Public Health. 2023;23(1):2139.
Note: This Research Roundup was prepared with the assistance of ChatGPT.
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