New study explores cannabis effect on short term memory

7 10 2010

The effect of weed on your short term memory has long been a standard in any cannabis-comedy routine. Now, researchers are unlocking the effect of cannabis on memory.

A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that variations in the chemical makeup of different strains of marijuana are associated with different levels of cognitive impairment while high.

Tetrahydocannabinol (THC) is commonly recognized as the ingredient in marijuana that causes a “high” in users, but researchers have long known that pot contains other active substances as well. While THC can cause the widely advertised hallucinations and paranoia, another chemical found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), is believed to be responsible for the calmer, sedating part of the experience. The two chemicals have opposing effects on one of the brain receptors affected by cannabis, the CB1 receptor.

Some clinical studies have proposed that CBD acts as a balancing force to regulate the strength of the psychoactive agent THC.
Marijuana with relatively high ratios of CBD:THC is less likely to induce anxiety than marijuana with low CBD:THC ratios. CBD is also believed to regulate the body’s metabolism of THC by inactivating cytochrome P450, an important class of enzymes that metabolize drugs.
To determine the effect of different levels of CBD, researchers studied 134 cannabis-using volunteers while they smoked their own stash of marijuana, at home. They gave them various cognitive tests, either while stoned or abstinent. Then, they took samples of the pot back to the lab for testing.

The amount of cannabidiol contained in the marijuana varied widely — from 0.14% or less to 0.75%. Researchers found that individuals that smoked the weed with the lowest CBD had significant impairments in their ability to recall words, while those whose pot had higher levels of the chemical had no impairment at all. (The study authors controlled for any variance in levels of THC.)

Interestingly, however, unlike previous studies, the new research did not find that CBD reduced the hallucinatory and paranoia-inducing effects of THC that can be associated with psychotic episodes.

While some growers have bred “skunk” marijuana, which has extremely high levels of THC, less intense varietals with increased CBD can also be found. If this research holds up, the mellower high may be the smarter choice.

Source:cannabisfantastic





Medicinal cannabis in Australia?

1 08 2008

I’ve introduced a bill which would allow fines to be waived for the personal cultivation and use of marijuana for people suffering designated medical conditions. This would be on the proviso that a medical practitioner has signed a palliative cannabis certificate, saying that the person is suffering from a specified illness or disease, the symptoms of which might be palliated by the smoking or consumption of cannabis or cannabis resin.

Each year in Australia there are approximately 19,000 deaths from the use of tobacco, 2,000 from alcohol and 1,000 for all other illicit drugs combined. Paracetamol kills 400 people per year, and even aspirin causes more deaths than cannabis. In fact, ABS figures do not show cannabis as causing any deaths.

There is not anywhere in the literature a causal link between cannabis and psychosis. Certainly, there is evidence that shows that some people who are psychotic have a tendency to self-medicate with cannabis and, of course, that is interesting in itself because there is an ingredient in cannabis called CBD that inhibits psychotic symptoms among schizophrenics. It may be, in fact, that they have cottoned on to that and are using it to effectively alleviate some of their symptoms.

Dr Syril D’Souza and Dr Asif Malik from Yale University published an article on the website psychiatrictimes.com they say:

“If cannabis causes psychosis in and of itself then one would expect that any increase in the rates of cannabis use would be associated with increased rates of psychosis. However, in some areas where cannabis use has clearly increased, e.g., Australia, there has not been a commensurate increase in the rate of psychotic disorders. Further, one might also expect that, if the age of initiation of cannabis use decreases, there should also be a decrease in the age of onset of psychotic disorders. We are unaware of such evidence.”

The war against marijuana is ideological; it is a matter of what substance fits with what set of values. In the West there is a view that nature is bad and synthesising is better. It is time for us to consider the use of medical marijuana as part of being a humane and compassionate society. If we know that a substance works by improving the health of people and we continue to deny access to it, particularly when so many people use it illegally without any bad effect, then there is something else driving the argument – and it is certainly not science.

Source: SA democrats








%d bloggers like this: