New research has suggested that cannabis makes people less greedy and more empathetic.
According to a study published in Scientific Reports, a team of researchers at the University of New Mexico observed 146 healthy university students between the ages of 18 to 25.
Each young adult underwent a series of psychological assessments and questionnaires as scientists analysed their ‘moral foundations’.
It was found that those consuming cannabis showed better scores in pro-social behaviours, including empathy and moral decision-making relating to fairness and harmlessness, compared to non-users.
Lead author of the scientific paper Jacob Vigil spoke of the findings to news outlet The Paper, saying: “It seemed as though cannabis tends to result in a psychological shift from externally pressured goals.”
He added: “To me, my observation is that cannabis tends to result from that kind of egocentric or perhaps, externally pressurised trajectory towards one that is more primal and one that is more concerned with humanity in a broader collective context.”
Virgil hopes the study will encourage more cannabis use for treating medical issues instead of opioids, which are known to cause negative changes in emotions while enabling antisocial behaviours.
He said: “The relationship turns from one of the individual with other human beings to one of the individual with that opiate that their addiction to that opiate and cannabis, even though it is addicting.
“Obviously, most people that use cannabis tend to do it again, because they’d like the effects. It also tends to promote sociality.”
UNM economics professor and researcher on the study, Sarah Stitch, also hopes the study acts as a gateway for more research on the drug and its effects.
She said: “I think that the biggest impact I hope to see is that other researchers, and ourselves as well, will continue to research into this area and explore it with greater depth and bigger data sets.”
The findings also support another study that revealed how cannabis can help improve sociability.
A paper published in Neuropsychopharmacology found that those under the influence of CBD (the chemical in cannabis that doesn’t get you high) reported lower levels of anxiety, discomfort, and cognitive impairment while completing a public speaking task.
Another study published in Science Daily also revealed a correlation between smoking weed and being less motivated to work for money.
Virgil spoke of this research: “Cannabis users’ brains are less likely to light up when they are shown a depiction of dollar sign compared to non-users.
“People that don’t use cannabis get more excited when they see a dollar sign, and that has been interpreted by addiction researchers as a negative thing.”
He added: “What my research is suggesting that they care about human beings in a benign way that, presumably, is a tremendous benefit to society.”