Acute Effects of High-Potency Cannabis on Everyday Life Cognition

Primary author: Emily LaFrance
Faculty sponsor: Carrie Cuttler, PhD

Primary college/unit: Arts and Sciences
Campus: Pullman


Previous research indicates that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary constituent in cannabis, impairs memory and may affect risky decision-making. A small body of research further suggests that cannabidiol (CBD), which is also found in cannabis, may offset memory impairments. However, research demonstrating these effects has primarily utilized low THC ( 20% THC) cannabis and cannabis concentrates (> 60% THC) on cognition, and ii) to assess the role of CBD in the acute effects of cannabis on cognition. To achieve these aims, a between-subjects field experiment using Zoom videoconferencing software was employed. Participants in this study purchased a specific type of cannabis and then engaged in videoconferencing testing session from their home via Zoom. During this session, participants were observed while inhaling cannabis or remaining sober, and then completed tests of their memory (prospective, source, temporal order, and false memory) and decision making (risky choice framing, consistency in risk perception, resistance to sunk cost, and over/under confidence). Most of these tests measure aspects of cognition that have never been investigated under conditions of acute cannabis intoxication. Preliminary results indicate that cannabis intoxication impairs source memory and false memory but does not significantly impact decision making. CBD does not appear to offset these impairments. Results of this study have implications for cannabis users, and health practitioners working with cannabis-using populations.