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Young-Adult Marijuana Users Exhibit More Risk-Taking in Study

February 14, 2020

Frequent users of marijuana showed a greater tendency toward high risk-taking than non-users in a study conducted by a researcher at Oregon State University. The results of the study, which administered a gambling task to young-adult participants, suggest that frequent users of marijuana are highly driven by rewards and are less sensitive to losses.

Published online last month in Addictive Behaviors Reports, the study of 65 young adults ages 18 to 22 used the Iowa Gambling Task, in which participants receive a pot of money and then choose cards from decks with various levels of monetary rewards and penalties. Compared with a control group of non-users of marijuana, those who used marijuana at least five times a week over the past year were more likely to choose cards from decks that they knew contained large earnings but also large penalties.

“I think that individuals who may use cannabis should be aware that cannabis may be related to maladaptive decision-making,” said Anita Cservenka, a psychological researcher at Oregon State's College of Liberal Arts.

Cservenka said more research is needed in order to understand whether marijuana makes users more prone to risk-taking or whether people with a greater tendency to take risks gravitate to marijuana.

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