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Cannabis & cognition: The role of dopamine – Mikael Kowal, M.Sc.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for most of the psychoactive effects of cannabis, has been shown to have an indirect impact on opamine – a neurotransmitter involved in the control of goal-directed behavior, reward learning, reinforcement and addiction. However, not much is known about the effect of THC on specific dopamine-related cognitive functions. In our study we aimed to address that issue by investigating a group of 60 healthy cannabis users, matched for a number of demographic variables. We administered two different doses of THC in the form of medicinal cannabis (Bedrocan®) using a Volcano® vaporizer, in order to assess the differential impact of a particular dose on neurophysiological measurements and psychological tasks indicative of dopaminergic functioning. Since regular cannabis users display a specific tolerance to the impairing effects of THC, participants in our research were required to use cannabis regularly. Moreover, the current study was the first to use a placebo cannabis plant developed by Bedrocan® – the only official medicinal cannabis producer in the Netherlands. Consequently, the results of this study and their implications will be discussed during the talk.