King's College London has announced the official recruitment of volunteers for the Cannabis & Me project, which will aim to explore in detail all the positive and negative factors associated with the short and long-term effects of cannabis on the brain.
“There are at least 200 million people around the world who use cannabis more or less regularly, both recreationally and therapeutically. Probably even more people use cannabis once a week or a month. However, we still cannot say with any certainty how exactly the substances in the plant can affect the brain health of these people, ”says its head, Dr. Marta Di Forti, about the goals of the project. “We want to accurately identify these risk factors in order to compile a list of proven recommendations for the safe use of cannabis that people and organizations around the world can listen to. In fact, the main beneficiaries of the project will be physicians who will have verified recommendations and methods that can be used to guide their patients in the treatment of cannabis.”
To participate in the project, Dr. Di Forti's team intends to gather 6,000 volunteers, aged 18 to 45 years. Participants will be recruited based on the division into three groups, namely: For experienced users who use cannabis regularly; for individuals who do not have any experience with cannabis use, as well as for a group that will include "moderate" users, that is, those subjects who use cannabis no more than 3 times a month.
The first part of the experiment will consist of a list of questions relating to the description of participants' subjective experiences with cannabis use. During the study, scientists intend to establish the motivation for cannabis use, as well as the portions and dosages of the substance preferred by different consumers. Only some of the volunteers will be selected for the second part of the experiment, during which they will have to undergo a new, deeper survey, which includes direct interviews with the project organizers. Volunteers will participate in this part of the experiment, for which certain psychological deviations or injuries will be found, which are subject to treatment with cannabinoids. In addition, participants in this stage of the experiment will go through a series of physiological tests and blood tests to determine the level of cannabinoids in the body, possibly associated with similar conditions.
Finally, in the third, general part of the test, all volunteers will go through a scenario that simulates a public space, such as a supermarket, in virtual reality, aimed at identifying factors that can affect the social characteristics of subjects, as well as their ability to function in society and communicate with other people.
Based on the information obtained from these trials, the clinicians plan to develop a system of recommendations regarding the safe use of cannabis, including a possible list of warnings related to the identified patterns in terms of social and cognitive dysfunctions.