Collaborating with Professor Valerie Curran and Dr. Celia Morgan at University College London, we are now formally testing this association, and are currently analysing the data from the first 400 participants. In this large naturalistic study, involving several hundred participants smoking their own cannabis, from which we will obtain data on the ratios of the main psychoactive compound THC to the anxiolytic compound cannabidiol (CBD). This will also allow us to gain valuable information about the chemical composition of ‘street’ cannabis. Additionally, we are collecting genetic and personality data to enable us to delve deeper into the relationship between cannabis use and the subjective effects experienced by individual participants. We are also administering validated tests of cognition and creativity.
The second stage of this research project will use neuroimaging technology to examine the neurobiological changes associated with creativity whilst under the influence of cannabis containing different ratios of THC to CBD. Initial results from this program of research have found that cannabis users under the influence of their own cannabis are more likely to see relationships between pairs of related words than a non-cannabis using control group. The cannabis-using group also showed tendencies to see more associations when drug-free. As one aspect of creativity is the capacity to see remote associations, our findings may reflect a cannabis-related enhancement of this process. This aims of this program of research is to shed light on some of the reputed beneficial properties of cannabis, and to demonstrate that THC alone is a very unsatisfactory model of naturalistic cannabis use, and that other cannabinoids, such as CBD, which have been hitherto neglected, may have beneficial actions in synergy with THC. It will also focus on how individual differences in biochemistry and personality impact on how cannabis affects different people. International Drug Survey
Another recent collaboration between the Beckley Foundation and UCL is the On-line International Drug Survey which can be found at: www.internationaldrugsurvey.org. The aim of this survey is to find out what people think are the harms and benefits associated with recreational drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. We hope its findings will feed into the growing movement that is calling for a major overhaul of the existing drugs laws in the UK and elsewhere. Taking part is a way of making your opinion count. This survey is run independently by our group of university researchers at UCL in collaboration with the Beckley Foundation – it has not been commissioned by anyone, and will be published openly. It will be a valuable source of information about drug use in the UK.