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Cannabis Strains, Potency, and Self- Reported Memory Loss Among Young Adults in South Florida: Preliminary Findings from the Herbal Heart Study

Hazma Masoud
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Amrit Baral1, Ranya Marrakchi El Fellah1, Bria-Necole Diggs1, Sarah Messiah2, Raul Gonzalez3, Barry Hurwitz1, Claudia Martinez1, Denise C Vidot1
1University of Miami, 2University of Texas, 3Florida International University

Background: With the increasing prevalence of cannabis use among young adults, various strains and potencies have become readily available. Studying the potential impacts of different forms of cannabis consumption on memory is a critical public health priority. This research provides valuable insights for policymakers, enabling them to develop evidence-informed regulations for cannabis legislation at the state level.

Methods: Data are from cannabis consumers from an ongoing Herbal Heart Study Cohort, studying the effects of cannabis, cannabinoids, and routes of cannabis consumption on subclinical cardiovascular risk among young adults (18-35 years old) residing in South Florida. Participants self-reported the strains and potency of cannabis they consume the most. As a part of the Marijuana Problem Scale (MPS) questionnaire, participants were queried about memory loss as a perceived problem caused by cannabis consumption, with response options: “no problem” to “minor problem” and “serious problem.” For this analysis, responses were coded into a binary variable: “Yes” if any problem was reported and “No” otherwise. Descriptive statistics and Chi-squared/Fisher’s exact test where appropriate were employed using SAS Analytics.

Results: Out of 76 cannabis users, 57.9% were female, with a mean age of 25.0 years (SD=4.3). Hispanics/Latinos constituted 51.3% of the sample, followed by African Americans (19.7%), and Non-Hispanic Whites (18.4%). The majority of participants indicated hybrid (42.1%) as their usual strain of cannabis use, followed by indica (30.3%), sativa (18.4%), and 9.2% were uncertain about their usual strain. A larger proportion reported predominantly consuming high-potency cannabis (64.5%), followed by regular to mid-grade potency (25.0%), with the remaining 10.0% uncertain about the potency they mostly consume. Concerning self-reported memory loss as a problem caused by cannabis 43.4% reported having such a problem. Breaking down memory loss by cannabis strain mostly used, 34.8% of indica users, sativa (64.3%), and hybrid (37.5%) reported memory loss. Among those who reported memory loss, the majority were high potency cannabis users (81.8%) followed by those who were unsure of the potency (12.1%), and regular-mid grade users (6.1%, p=0.0025).

Conclusions: Findings suggest an association between cannabis strains, potency, and self-reported memory loss among young adults, with sativa users demonstrating the highest prevalence, followed by hybrid and indica users. Further exploration is needed to research the details and mechanisms of these findings.