In the eyes of popular culture, cannabis consumers aren’t exactly models of concentration and cognitive performance. So when a small group of researchers began exploring cannabis as alternative treatment for attention deficit disorders, there was of course some scoffing and skepticism. Nevertheless, with so many medical marijuana patients swearing by its ability to promote focus in place of prescription stimulants, these doctors sought to take a closer look at the scientific basis of this counterintuitive phenomenon.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, better known as ADHD, is a controversial diagnosis marked by distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Adults are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, or ADD, which lacks this hyperactivity characteristic, but is similar in other ways to ADHD. More than one in 10 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, a figure that has grown exponentially in the last 50 years. Since 1957, doctors have been treating ADD/ADHD patients with psychostimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta.