Based on research funded by the National Science Foundation, a psychology professor in Vermont has used artificial intelligence and data from a video game app to show that impairment from cannabis use can persist for up to five hours after ingestion or inhalation.
Ari P. Kirshenbaum, from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, conducts research into the effects of cannabis on behavior and motor skills and recently published his findings through the American Psychological Association in a report titled, “Data Crowdsourcing on Psychomotor and Cognitive Effects of Cannabis via Mobile App” and co-authored by Chris Lewis, Andy Kaplan and Arun Ramamurthy. The data was also presented in March at the International Conference for Psychological Science in Brussels.
The study analyzed subjective, first-hand reports of participants’ levels and duration of intoxication, as well as objective data from their performance using the video game app, called “Indicator,” which Kirshenbaum created to identify patterns of performance impairment.
While subjective intoxication “abated significantly after two hours and remained stable thereafter,” performance differences between the test subjects — those who consumed cannabis — and the control group could be measured up to 300 minutes after consumption. Their performance covered a variety of neuropsychological domains, including psychomotor compensation, time estimation and reproduction, sustained attention and response inhibition while playing a sequence of video games within the app.
Similar to the subjective results, measurable performance differences compared to the sober/control group were most evident in the 120 minutes immediately following cannabis consumption.
The study tested about 330 cannabis consumers, 63.9% of whom reported using cannabis “frequently (3-7 times per week)” or “multiple times per day.”
Though Kirshenbaum is in favor legalization in Vermont and across the nation, he believes his research highlights reasons for caution.
“Highway safety is perhaps the greatest public health and safety concern pertaining to cannabis decriminalization, but occupational and home safety are also concerns,” the report states.
— Garrett Rudolph