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Does Cannabis Make You Walk Funny?

August 21, 2017
(Connel_Design/iStock)
Researchers at the University of South Australia have published a study in the September 2017 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence that looks into the relationship between cannabis consumption and altered gait—or a person’s manner of walking.

The scientists set out to investigate balance and walking gait in adults with a history of cannabis consumption. The hypothesis was that cannabis consumption may be associated with subtle changes in gait and balance.

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Previous studies had indicated that cannabis intoxication resulted in acute motor deficits, including changes in balance (Ramaekers et al., 2006). Also, in 2008, there was a study that found an acute concentration-dependent disturbance in balance, with increased levels of THC resulting in increased body sway (Zuurman et al., 2008).

Leafly has obtained this exclusive video of the study in question.

The new study closely observed two groups of adults aged 18-49 years.  22 subjects had no history of illicit drug consumption. 22 other subjects had a history of cannabis use, but no history of illicit stimulant or opioid use.

Participants then completed screening tests, a gait and balance test that included a motion capture system, and a clinical neurological examination of movement.

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Their results suggested that cannabis consumption is associated with long-lasting changes in certain elements of a person’s walking gait—but the magnitude of those changes is so small as to be clinically undetectable. The study found no difference between the two groups in term of how their balance changed over time.

Individuals with a history of cannabis consumption exhibited abnormalities in the lower limb during gait. In other words, the velocity of a person’s knee during the swing phase of gait was greater by seven percent in cannabis users than in non-drug users. The velocity of the knee during a swing phase of gait is indicative of increased cadence; however, no difference in walking speed was observed between the two groups.

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The authors of the study called for further research to investigate if the gait disturbances diminish with increased time between cannabis consumption.

Gage Peake's Bio Image

Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • abie cee

    Absurdity has no limits.

  • The Chadalac

    Is this a joke?

  • lovingc

    It is just the Australians reinventing the wheel.

  • Gregory J. Gonzales

    I thought I was the only one! Always noticed a difference in my gait, and thought it was just stoned thinking. Crazy to think I was actually right.

    Time to run a few experiments…

  • cinderabi

    Thought so! I have been accused of having a “Philly gait” because my stride is fast & has a bit of a bounce to it. Also I tend to dance a lot every day, and that must reflect itself in my walk as well. As for balance, well I haven’t fallen over yet, so I’ll just keep on truckin’ with a happy little smile reflected throughout my entire body. Sure beats slinking around in a woeful shuffle with my gaze aimed downward. Yup, feels a whole lot better to bounce.

  • A study of 44 people with clinically undetectable results. Is this even science?

    • Jim Moran

      I was thinking the same thing!!!

    • Richard Jones

      This is ephatically not scientific! A test group of 44 rather than thousands?

  • paldo24

    What the actual f..k???