Saturday, January 2, 2010
The Miracle Of Marijuana
In Washington DC, there's considerable anticipation of the medical marijuana initiative finally being allowed to take effect. DC voters backed Initiative 59 with 69 percent support in 1998, but, of course, American citizens have less self-rule in Washington than Iraqis have in Baghdad, and so a bunch of congressmen from far far away decided that we needed their rule rather than democracy and voided the whole thing. But that ended last month with an appropriations bill and a Congressional majority that believes in democracy at home as well as abroad.
Good timing. New research suggests that marijuana acts in the opposite fashion to legal and taxed alcohol and nicotine, and fr from destroying brain cells, actually helps them re-grow:
Xia Zhang, an associate professor in the U of S neuropsychiatry research unit, led the team that tested the effects of HU-210, a potent synthetic cannabinoid similar to a group of compounds found in marijuana. The synthetic version is about 100 times as powerful as THC, the compound responsible for the high experienced by recreational users.
The team found that rats treated with HU-210 on a regular basis showed neurogenesis – the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus. This region of the brain is associated with learning and memory, as well as anxiety and depression.
The effect is the opposite of most legal and illicit drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, heroin, and cocaine.
“Most ‘drugs of abuse’ suppress neurogenesis,” Zhang says. “Only marijuana promotes neurogenesis.”
Of course these tests need to be done in humans. Maybe soon America will be sufficiently adult to start following reason rather than fear.