According to researchers from Washington State University, chronic cannabis use is associated with lower stress levels. In the study, which was published in Psychopharmacology, the stress hormone levels between 40 chronic cannabis users and 42 non-users were compared both before and after performing stressful and non-stressful tests. Researchers found regular and heavy cannabis users displayed no difference in salivary cortisol levels when confronting psychologically and physiologically stressful situations and when confronting non-stressful situations. Non-users’ cortisol levels were higher when confronting stressful simulations in comparison to non-stressful scenarios.
Lead author Carrie Cuttler explains, “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of acute stress on salivary cortisol levels in chronic cannabis users compared to non-users… While we are not at a point where we are comfortable saying whether this muted stress response is a good thing or a bad thing, our work is an important first step in investigating potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis at a time when its use is spreading faster than ever before.”
On testing day, all participants were required to abstain from cannabis use, which is something Cuttler says haven’t been done before. “This study is actually quite novel and new and different from those that have been previously conducted.. There have been studies before that looked at whether people were high or not high,” she said, “but nobody’s looked at sober cannabis users.”