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Sex, Drugs, and Cognition: Effects of Marijuana

Despite the knowledge that many drugs affect men and women differently, few studies exploring the effects of marijuana use on cognition have included women. Findings from both animal and human studies suggest marijuana may have more marked effects in women.

This study examined sex differences in the acute effects of marijuana on cognition in 70 (n=35 male, 35 female) occasional users of marijuana. Tasks were chosen to tap a wide variety of cognitive domains affected by sex and/or marijuana including attention, cognitive flexibility, time estimation, and visuospatial processing. As expected, acute marijuana use impaired performance on selective and divided attention, time estimation, and cognitive flexibility.

While there did not appear to be sex differences in marijuana's effects on cognition, women requested to discontinue the smoking session more often than men, likely leading to an underestimation of differences. Further study of psychological differences in marijuana's effects on men and women following both acute and residual effects of marijuana is warranted.

Anderson, B., Rizzo, M., Block, R., Pearlson, G., & O'Leary, D. Sex, Drugs, and Cognition: Effects of Marijuana. 42 4 413-24. .