New research conducted by the American Psychology Association, with contributions from a local St. Michael's College psychology professor, Dr. Ari Kirshenbaum, show that impairment from smoking cannabis can have longer lasting effects than previously thought.
Below are excerpts from Dr. Ari Kirshenbaums interview with Vermont Public's Mitch Wertlieb discussing the findings of the new research and thoughts on the dangers that current perception of cannabis as a "harmless drug" may have on the public that does not have all of the information to make an educated decision.
On the American Psychology Association findings:
"We find with our research that even heavy users of cannabis, people who are using it daily, are still demonstrating signs of impairment after five hours post-use. So that means they can smoke a little bit and five hours later, we're still detecting some problems in their abilities to make good decisions, to operate motor vehicles, that kind of thing. I think that, at least with the data we have, we can infer that these impairments are going to be problematic that long after use. So just because you don't feel it doesn't mean that you're not impaired."
On the public perception of cannabis and the impacts on the public:
"I think that as a society, we're ill-prepared to deal with the change in public policy. I'm not saying I disagree. In fact, I agree with the shift of public policy because our former public policy, where it was criminalized in the state of Vermont, was not predicated on protecting civil liberties. This was not predicated on science. So I think where we are is where we should be.
But I also think that we just are not very well informed about cannabis in general as a society. So for instance, one thing I'd like to point out is that cannabis is dependence-producing. People will suffer withdrawal if they’re chronic, habitual daily users of cannabis, and they decide to discontinue their use. There is a withdrawal syndrome. And I think that sometimes challenges people's notion that cannabis is a harmless drug. It's not. When it comes to driving or operating heavy equipment, I also want people to be aware — just to have an acute awareness that they're not operating with their full functionality."