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Recent research conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London and the University of Oxford reveals that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary compound in cannabis, causes individuals to become more focused on cannabis-related cues when consuming the drug. This effect may be linked to the cognitive processes associated with cannabis use disorder (CUD).

THC heightens attraction to cannabis-related cues

In the study published in Addiction, researchers discovered that the common levels of cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis did not have any modulating effects on the participants, contrary to popular user beliefs.

The study comprised of four sessions whereby 46 infrequent cannabis users were asked to inhale a cannabis vapor with 10mg of THC and varying levels of CBD (0, 10, 20, or 30mg). They were subsequently subjected to a task to assess their preference between cannabis-related images and neutral or food-related images and neutral ones. The study revealed that inhaling THC led to a heightened attraction to cannabis-related cues without a significant increase in their explicit liking for it.

The researchers also aimed to determine whether the CBD concentration in the vapor influenced the outcomes. Prior studies have indicated that elevated doses of CBD (ranging from 400mg to 800mg) can diminish cannabis consumption among individuals with Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD).

Nonetheless, the findings of this study revealed that CBD, when administered at the customary levels commonly present in existing products, did not produce any discernible impact.

Cannabis addiction can alter cognitive behaviors

Research demonstrates that individuals without addiction history exhibit similar cognitive patterns to those with CUD when intoxicated. Dr. Amir Englund, one of the study’s lead authors, suggests that comprehending how THC triggers these changes can lead to innovative prevention and treatment methods for CUD.

Dr. Dominic Oliver, co-author of the study from the University of Oxford, emphasizes the importance of people who use cannabis reflecting on their usage to identify potential addictive behaviors. He said they wish to further investigate these behaviors in individuals who use cannabis both infrequently and frequently, examining the effects of varying THC doses via inhalation and oral consumption.