By Nancy Jane Moore
The Society for Neuroscience heard a report on Wednesday about a drug that may ease the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
The drug? Marijuana.
In fact, the study apparently provides data supporting an earlier report that people who smoked a lot of pot in the 1960s and 70s seem to be at lower risk for Alzheimer's than others of the same age.
Apparently marijuana does affect your brain. Only instead of destroying your memory, as all the public interest commercials say, it makes it better. Getting stoned in your youth turns out to be one of the best things you could do for your old age.
Kind of jerks the rug out from under that old joke about those who remember the Sixties weren't there, doesn't it?
According to the story I read on the Reuters news wire on Wednesday (no longer available online), the study was conducted on rats by a professor at Ohio State University. The study showed that marijuana reduces inflammation in the brain.
New Scientist magazine also has a report on the study.
Actually, this is not the first research on the subject. The BBC published information back in 2005 about a Spanish study that was written up in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Here's the thing in the news reports that makes me believe that this is real science and not something from the Onion that got loose accidentally: Researchers are trying to figure out how to make a version of the drug that won't get people high. In fact, the BBC piece includes a comment from one of the Spanish researchers, Dr. Susanne Sorensen:
We would warn the public against taking marijuana as a way of preventing Alzheimer's.Why? What's wrong with a drug that makes you feel good while making you healthier? Beats the hell out of most drug side effects.
In all seriousness, these studies provide more evidence that marijuana is, in fact, a valuable medical resource. Certainly there is enough evidence of medical value to encourage much more research. Yet our government is still going to war against it -- even prosecuting those who are using it to combat the nausea of chemotherapy.
That doesn't make much sense to me. But then, this is the same government that subsidizes tobacco farming. And tobacco really is bad for you.
The moral of this story? Take all lectures on morality with a grain of salt. It is possible for something to be pleasurable and good for you.
And don't forget to inhale.