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Religious Tolerance logo

Cannabis, marijuana, pot...

Results of an Israeli study

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Results of an Israeli study:

A research team at Tel Aviv University in Israel published an article in the journal Medical Hypotheses during 2004. They stated that:

"Cannabinoids are the most widely used drugs of abuse. In spite of the many reports on their long-term neurotoxic effects, cannabinoids are still considered by many as 'safe soft drugs'."

Their beneficial effects have been cited in:

bulletFighting some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease,
bulletStimulate the appetites of persons with AIDS and anorexia, 
bulletReducing nausea and vomiting as a side effect of chemotherapy treatments,
bulletTreating muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis,
bulletThe treatment of glaucoma. etc.

These benefits often mentioned in support of their long-term safety. However, more recent research by the same team promotes the belief that pot can both help and injure. 3

The active ingredient of marijuana is delta nine tetrahydrocannabinol (a.k.a. THC). Yosef Sarne, a member of the university research team, reports that heavy doses of THC may protect the brain against certain forms of damage, while small doses actually damage the brain. The lower dangerous levels are much lower than those absorbed from smoking a single "joint." However, as the liver metabolizes the THC, the latter's level eventually decreases into this danger zone.

According to a report by World Science, Sarne and colleagues have argued that THC:

"... and related compounds, in high doses, tend to restrict the release of a chemical called glutamate from brain cells. ... This effect can be helpful because excess release of glutamate—which is also an essential chemical messenger in the brain—is implicated in various disorders, including Alzheimer’s."

"This, the scientists wrote, may explain why THC-like compounds, called cannabinoids, help protect brain cells in cases such as ischemia, or blocked blood vessels; excitotoxicity, or over-stimulation of nerve cells; and even physical injuries."

"Studies suggest cannabinoids temper glutamate release by partially blocking molecular gateways in nerve cells, known as voltage-dependent calcium channels, Sarne and colleagues wrote."

 "But ultra-low doses appear to have the opposite effect, they added."

"Thus they proposed that 'an acute treatment results in a high concentration of the drug close to the time of trauma and therefore protects the brain from the acute insult, while chronic treatment exposes the organism to low concentrations of cannabinoids for long periods of time.' During that time, 'minor' nerve cell damage accumulates."

"In the study, Sarne and colleagues injected mice with THC doses that they said were some 1,000 times lower than what humans would get from smoking a joint, taking into account body weight. The treatment significantly worsened the rodents’ performance on maze tests three weeks later, compared to untreated mice. ..."

"Distinguishing these two modes of action may help educate the public as to pot’s unhealthy consequences, while clarifying the clinical benefits, they wrote."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Pot may be both good and bad, researchers say," World Science, 2007-AUG-31, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  2. The Tel Aviv University article is to be published in the 2007-NOV-06 issue of Neuroscience Letters.

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Site navigation:

Home page > Morality / ethics menu > Marijuana availability > here

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Health information provided in this section is intended for general information only. It should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your personal health professional for advice relating to a medical problem.

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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-SEP-07
Latest update: 2007-SEP-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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