A recent study by investigators at the University of New Mexico, Department of Psychology, reveals that Cannabis users prioritize Empathy, Moral Fairness, and Moral Harmlessness. The study, titled “Cannabis Consumption and Prosociality”, was published in Nature Scientific Reports. “Prosociality” refers to the intentional act of advancing the well-being of others.
Previous studies have suggested an association between Cannabis use and antisocial behavior. For example, a study of people with a criminal history of aggression proposes that their Cannabis use is a predictor of their aggressive behavior. Another study of men arrested for domestic violence links Cannabis use to future violence. These studies describe the behavior of lawless and disruptive Cannabis users. However, they don’t lend insight to Cannabis use among healthy populations.
In response, psychologists decided to evaluate healthy Cannabis users. They measured the traits of 146 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 using validated social psychology scales. Participants’ urine was tested for THC and they were asked if they had recently used Cannabis. Approximately half of the participants had recently used Cannabis. Those with THC in their urine had higher “prosocial” scores compared the THC-free cohort. THC positive females scored higher on measures of aggression and THC positive males scored higher on measures of agreeableness. It's important to note that the study found no difference in measurements of anger, trust of others, emotional stability, openness, principles of respecting authority, and preserving the concept of purity.
The authors explain that Cannabis is often consumed to reduce feelings of anger and aggression. Animal and human studies have shown that, unlike alcohol, Cannabis intoxication results in a decrease in aggressive behaviors. Observational studies indicate that Cannabis users are less irritable, agitated, and stressed. With increasing access to Cannabis, it’s important to understand what happens to Cannabis use in healthy populations.
This study consisted of undergraduate students at University of New Mexico. These students were without chronic health conditions. They also likely have similar social environments. A study of this population explains an association of Cannabis use for a specific group of people. Nevertheless, the results add to growing evidence that Cannabis use can add benefit to healthy populations. Similar studies can be applied to other healthy populations.
Jean Talleyrand, M.D.,