Barely Publicized Harvard Study Says Cannabis Improves Brain Function

A study from Harvard's Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) program looked at a group of people who used the drug to treat and manage anxiety, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleep problems, and found that after three months of use, they did not show signs of declining cognitive function. In fact, their executive function skills — like paying attention and managing time — actually improved.

The first phase of this study is a non-invasive investigation of participants who currently hold a certification for medical marijuana for various medical and/or psychological conditions.

Subjects are assessed at baseline, prior to beginning their medical marijuana treatment regimen and complete clinical and diagnostic scales/interviews, cognitive testing, measures related to quality of life, sleep, general activities, and where appropriate, a neuroimaging session which assess brain structure, function, chemistry and white matter integrity.

Following their visit, subjects track their use of MMJ products daily (type, mode of use, amount, frequency) using a log system, and are in touch with researchers biweekly. Follow up visits occur at 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, and 24 months post MMJ treatment initiation in order to better assess the potential impact of MMJ on cognitive function and related brain and quality of life measures

The second phase of the MIND project is an FDA-approved clinical trial of a high-CBD sublingual tincture for the treatment of anxiety. Subjects are assessed at baseline and weekly for four weeks of treatment. The primary outcome measures of the study are clinical state measures related to anxiety. Additionally, subjects will complete measures related to quality of life, sleep, and activity levels, cognitive testing, and for those who are eligible, neuroimaging to assess brain structure, function, and neurochemistry.

The third phase is a study that examines clinical state and cognition in veterans who are using cannabinoids to treat a variety of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and pain. Veterans are assessed monthly throughout six months of cannabinoid use, and complete measures of clinical state, quality of life, sleep, and pain, and also complete cognitive testing. A subset of veterans will also participate in MR imaging to examine brain structure, function, and chemistry during six months of cannabinoid use.