Lauren is in the third year of UBC’s MD undergraduate program. Her research has focused on health and societal outcomes of medical cannabis use. After completing her BSc in Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, Lauren worked in physical rehabilitation at Karp Rehab focusing on recovery and return to work post motor vehicle accident. Her interests involved musculoskeletal injury, non-pharmacological pain management and comorbid mental health conditions. She has organized and coordinated fundraisers for Tertiary Mental Health Centers such as Willow Pavilion and University of Victoria’s Mental Health Friendship Bench Program. Lauren is pursuing opportunities working in internal medicine, rural medicine and neuromuscular physiology.
Phytocannabinoids and cannabis terpenoids cross the blood-brain barrier and are potentially psychoactive. However, impairment, when observed, is primarily attributable to the acute effects of THC on CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, resulting in disruption of cognitive and psychomotor control. Duration of impairment is strongly correlated to dose, method of intake, frequency of use (leading to tolerance) and if euphoria was experienced. This topic is critical due to the implications of driving and workplace safety when prescribing medical cannabis. Neurocognitive testing and observation of performance specific activities to capture reaction time, coordination, balance, and decision making are more valuable in regulating medical cannabis impairment in comparison to bodily fluid THC levels. Most neurocognitive testing data has been completed on recreational cannabis users who have non-equivalent quantity and quality control, duration of use, route of intake and expectations of euphoria. Available data from psychometric testing and driving simulation in medical users has been available in several randomized controlled trials, observational studies and self-report surveys. Those data will be reviewed here, and largely support that cannabis is well tolerated and infrequently associated with indicia of significant impairment.