With more and more states looking to legalize the use of marijuana over the next few years, people are also looking for a way to determine the effects and the level of impairment from the introduction of THC to the brain. A new prototype app, which is currently being developed and that tests cognitive speed, memory, and reaction time could help with all this.
Students from the University of Chicago presented their initial results from testing the app at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, which is underway at the 2018 Experimental Biology meet-up in San Diego.
Researchers hope the app will help improve individual awareness of how THC affects the brain. It could do this by making users more aware of their impairment by answering the question, “Am I Stoned?” (which is also the app’s name).
How The Prototype App, Am I Stoned, Works
Researchers tested 24 healthy non-daily cannabis smokers by giving them a placebo, 7.5mg THC capsule, or a 15mg THC capsule. Then, their performance on a variety of cognitive tasks were tested and measured. Some of these assignments focused on performing computer tasks, while others were targeted on app-based tasks performed on an iPhone. Neither the participants nor the researchers knew whether those involved had received a placebo or a THC capsule.
Because computer-related tasks tend to require fine motor skills, researchers believe they are more sensitive to impairment than other assignments. The study team established that three of the four tasks could accurately predict an impaired person. At the same time, only one out of four tasks on the iPhone was capable of doing the same.
Researchers are also wary of repetitions, as performing the same task over and over can inaccurately reflect impairment if the user is too familiar with what is being asked of them by the app. Judgment planning was not something tested by the app so it could lead to an inaccurate assessment of impairment without more data.
This prototype app is not designed to detect whether a person is too impaired to drive, but researchers do hope that it will be used to help cannabis users assess their performance.
The app will need to be distributed to a broader cannabis-using audience to determine whether or not it is can accurately depict the effects of cannabis. However, the researchers plan to use their findings from this experiment to further refine the app so that deployment on the AppStore will help improve these studies further. Am I Stoned will soon be one way to determine the level of impairment when consuming cannabis.
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