As we ourselves have noted, weed culture is changing at a rapid pace from something demonized into something far better understood. Back when Reefer Madness was released, marijuana was perceived to make you disrespect your parents and lose your mind in a manic fit. People are now waking up to the blatant alarmism that has surrounded the drug for decades; the latest proof of this comes from a Newsweek story about a recent study on the relationship between cannabis and memory.
The study found that THC actually aided memory retention in mice, which was tested by their ability to perform cognitive tasks. Mice who received doses of THC were ages two, 12 and 18 months. The medicated mice competed against “placebo mice” of the same ages in various memory tests.
One involved a water maze that required memorization to exit. While younger, non-medicated mice outperformed older, non-medicated mice, the older, medicated mice performed better than younger, medicated mice. The study’s authors said this was in “good agreement with the known detrimental effects of THC on cognition in young animals and humans.” So, sorry, 18-year-olds, smoking a gram a day still isn’t a good idea for your developing brain.
In the next task, mice had to locate a specific object. Medicated, older mice performed as well as the sober, younger mice. Here the scientists noted that the “results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals.“
So, what’s the science behind this? THC appears to repair "hippo-campal gene transcription patterns,” which means “it repairs damage that make memory-making and learning more difficult.” The paper declares that there is great uncertainty whether these patterns will hold true in humans. But Zaneel Cader, an associate professor of clinical neuroscience at Oxford, told Newsweek the study is “very interesting on a number of levels.”
"There’s clearly growing interest in the potential therapeutic role of cannabinoids and in this particular case THC on various human conditions,” he said. The conditions most of interest are Alzheimer’s and dementia, which threaten the same hippocampal patterns THC appears to strengthen in mice.
This is all very exciting, but don’t sub a joint for fish oil just yet. “Testing in humans is going to be difficult,” Cader said. The biggest concern, despite marijuana’s relative harmlessness, is its issue of safety. “With a cannabinoid like THC, which does have adverse effects in certain individuals, there would be worries about the chronic dosing of this kind of medicine. We would need to assess the safety first before going into seeing whether it would improve cognition.”