Time to Say I Told You So: Cannabis Users Handle Stressful Situations Better

Khryss | Published 2017-08-07 11:25

Well, uhm...can I start rolling now?

Researchers from the Washington State University (SWU) have statistic data supporting the notion that regular use of cannabis helps people be more relaxed when handling stressful situations.

“This study is actually quite novel and new and different from those that have been previously conducted,” said lead author Carrie Cuttler, an assistant clinical professor in WSU’s psychology department.  

The research team gathered 82 people--40 “chronic” or everyday users and 42 non-users. Basically, chronic users are those have smoked cannabis every day for at least a year while the non-users are the ones who've only used cannabis for ten times or less in their whole life and have not used it the previous year. All participants were instructed not to use cannabis on the day of testing.

Half of both the chronic and the non-users were then given a stress-inducing task, and were scolded by the researchers every single time they make a mistake. They also had to see their faces on a live video feed while doing the task. The other half did a much simpler task, had no “negative verbal feedback”, and were not asked to see a distracting live video feed. Before and after this experiment, the participants’ cortisol levels--a hormone associated with stress--has been measured as well as their stress level.

Researchers found that chronic users have no significant changes in cortisol levels regardless of their task (stressful and non-stressful). On the other hand, non-users had a significantly higher cortisol levels especially when undergoing a much stressful task.

And while cannabis users reported feeling more stressed after the less-pleasant task of the two tests, they showed “a significantly smaller increase in subjective stress ratings” than non-users, the researchers wrote. This is surprising as Cuttler noted that she assumed stress levels of chronic users would go higher as they had to abstain from using their "preferred coping tool" during this situation.

Using weed might help against effects related to imbalances of cortisol levels, Cuttler pointed out. But using it just to reduce stress responses of healthy people isn't necessarily a good idea either.

“We’re not sure if it’s a good thing, a bad thing or potentially both,” Cuttler said.

I guess you just go ahead and puff at your own risk!


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