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British public backs legalisation of cannabis so it can be sold like cigarettes and alcohol, poll reveals

British public backs legalization of cannabis so it can be sold like cigarettes and alcohol, poll reveals

Exclusive: legalization of cannabis  online 51 per cent say it is time to treat the drug in the same way as other legal substances

Workers in a greenhouse growing cannabis plants in California

legalization of cannabise

workers in a greenhouse growing cannabis plants in California ( AP )

A majority of the British public back the legalisation of cannabis so that it would be sold in shops like alcohol and tobacco, a poll has reveale.

There was also majority support for decriminalisation, something that would free up police time and resources to deal with serious crime.

Abstaining from cannabis for a month can boost the memory performance of regular users, according to a study of young people who used the drug at least once a week.

Researchers found that four weeks without cannabis led to a “modest but reliable” improvement in users’ memory test scores, which could be sufficient to raise students’ grades at school.

Abstaining from cannabis for a month can boost the memory performance

“We can strongly say that regular users will learn better when they abstain, and continuing to use the drug is likely to negatively impact the learning process,” said Randi Schuster at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine in Boston.

The scientists recruited 88 participants aged 16 to 25, all of whom used cannabis at least once a week. Each was then randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first continued their drug use as before, while the second agreed to quit for 28 days. All gave regular urine samples to ensure they stuck to the arrangement.

Over the next month, the participants took regular computer tests to assess their cognitive skills. While abstaining from cannabis had no measurable impact on attention skills, memory improved markedly, and particularly in the first week when much of the drug washed out of their system. The most notable effect was seen in a verbal memory test which recorded how well people could memorise and later recall a series of 18 words that flashed up on the computer screen.

Cannabis contains a cocktail of psychoactive ingredients, the most potent of which is THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance largely responsible for the drug-related high. The compound works by binding to receptors on neurons throughout the brain, but which are concentrated in regions crucial for memory and cognitive function. The same brain areas are least developed in adolescents, potentially making younger people more vulnerable to THC-related harm.

“We see the most dramatic change in memory during the first week and then a slow taper through the rest of the month,” Schuster told the Guardian. “I think it’s likely that the degree of THC clearance is contributing to the degree of cognitive change.”

Those who took part in the study either smoked cannabis, ate it in some form, or used other preparations such as sticky dabs and oils. While some were daily users, others only took the drug at weekends. “I think the perception among parents and kids is that perhaps weekend use is not problematic, but we saw an improvement even among people who used cannabis just once a week,” Schuster said. “It’s a modest but reliable improvement.”

The exclusive BMG Research poll for The Independent come day after cannabis oil was for the first time brought into the UK legally, to treat an epileptic boy.

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