1 Given that recreational marijuana (cannabis) use has been legalized in eleven of the fifty United States and additional states continue to proceed with marijuana legalization, there is a crucial need to more fully understand the impact of recent as well as cumulative effects of marijuana use on decision-making function in young adults. The broad aims of this proposal are to further understand the impact of varying levels of marijuana and comorbid substance use on decision making to (1) inform future policy on what amount/duration of use is equated with impairment; and (2) aid in development of screening tools on college campuses to target young adults for early intervention prior to the onset of chronic severe cannabis use disorder. Research shows that individuals diagnosed with substance use disorders make more high-stakes choices, and as a result, face greater negative consequences than healthy individuals; these findings appear to be stronger for men than women. However, it is unclear whether brain and behavioral impairments in risky decision making precede or are a consequence of problematic marijuana use (cannabis use disorder) in particular.
The specific aims of this proposal test whether. in addition to impaired behavioral performance within the context of risky options, the brain also recruits less resources to process high-stakes choices and punishing feedback in a diverse sample of n=90 CUNY Queens College students ages 18-25: (1) categorically as a function of marijuana use frequency (daily, occasional, never) and gender (male, female); and (2) dimensionally as a function of lifetime and recency of marijuana and other substance use, family history of substance use disorder, age of onset, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and gender. Electrophysiological, behavioral, and clinical assessment data will be collected and analyzed to evaluate whether brain and behavioral dysfunctions are present in male and/or female marijuana users prior to chronic, severe cannabis use disorder. Once the proposed aims are completed, the findings from this dataset will be evaluated to determine whether brain and behavioral indicators of risky decision making can be used to track marijuana use trajectory over time and predict future cannabis use disorder severity.
As of November 2016, recreational marijuana has been legalized in eleven of the fifty United States (Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, and Maine). As states continue to proceed with legalization, there is a crucial need to more fully understand the impact of recent as well as cumulative effects of marijuana use on decision-making function in young adults. Research to further understand the impact of varying levels of marijuana and comorbid substance use could serve to inform future policy on what amount/duration of use is equated with impairment, and could aid in the development of screening tools to target young adults for early intervention.