Researchers explore long term cannabis use on memory

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – New data is showing the negative impact of long-term cannabis use on cognition and brain mass.

According to a study published in the journal Psychology Today, changes caused by long-term cannabis use resemble risk factors for dementia later in life.

I.Q. declined by an average of 5.5 points along with deficits in visual and verbal memory performance.

“This was a study done in New Zealand of a thousand people and what they found was when they tracked people from age 13 to age 45 they showed declines in learning, processing speed and verbal memory,” said Dr. Daniel Bober, Chief of Psychiatry for Memorial Regional Hospital.

Additionally, the study found I.Q. levels also declined by an average of 5.5 points after decades of persistent cannabis use.

Previous studies have shown that multiple sclerosis patients who use cannabis to control painful muscle spasms have earlier cognitive decline.

And more children in the U.S. are being diagnosed with autism.

A new CDC report showed that in 2020, one out of every 36 American children were diagnosed with the condition.

That’s up from 1-in-44 in 2018.

The report also showed the rate rose faster among children of color than white children.

According to the data, about three percent of Black, Hispanic and Asian children was diagnosed with autism compared to about two percent of white children.

“They found a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder dramatically increased in black Hispanic and Asian communities. Those rates are up by 30 percent in underserved communities when you compare that 2020 to 2018. Again, why is this happening? Number one, we are much better and much more aggressive at making the diagnosis, so we are on the lookout for that.  When you look for something, you’re going to find it.  And also, during the pandemic, there was a big pause in making the diagnosis. So we were seeing it and we are seeing it more catching up, if you will,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News Medical Correspondent.

Experts said the increase is likely due to improved screening and increased awareness for Black and Hispanic families.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.