The Frontal Cortex

Smoke Weed in Moderation

That, at least, is the consensus of a new paper in Neuropharmacology:

There is a general consensus that the effects of cannabinoid agonists on anxiety seem to be biphasic, with low doses being anxiolytic and high doses ineffective or possibly anxiogenic. Besides the behavioural effects of cannabinoids on anxiety, very few papers have dealt with the neuroanatomical sites of these effects. We investigated the effect on rat anxiety behavior of local administration of THC in the prefrontal cortex, basolateral amygdala and ventral hippocampus, brain regions belonging to the emotional circuit and containing high levels of CB1 receptors. THC microinjected at low doses in the prefrontal cortex (10 μg) and ventral hippocampus (5 μg) induced in rats an anxiolytic-like response tested in the elevated plus-maze, whilst higher doses lost the anxiolytic effect and even seemed to switch into an anxiogenic profile. Low THC doses (1 μg) in the basolateral amygdala produced an anxiogenic-like response whereas higher doses were ineffective.

In other words, a good high works in the prefrontal cortex and ventral hippocampus while a bad high turns on the amygdala. As most pot smokers eventually discover, there is a fine pharmacological line between comic relaxation and vague paranoia. I’ve written about weed and anxiety before:

Despite the fact marijuana was first cultivated almost 10,000 years ago, modern medicine has yet to find a pharmaceutical equal. No other substance melts away our fears with such slick efficiency. But that may soon change. A cadre of neuroscientists is now using the natural potency of pot–its active ingredient is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)–as the possible basis for a next generation anti-anxiety pill.

And because it’s Friday:

Comments

  1. #1 karl roenfanz ( rosey )
    January 18, 2008

    the united states government has outlawed all pot or parts and compounds thereof, even crude hemp fibers must be imported. we are not allowed to grow our own hemp for fabric! so when i vote i use the write-in for legalize marijuana!

  2. #2 Rachael
    January 18, 2008

    incidentally, Michael Pollan covers a somewhat spiritual discussion of the effects of cannabis in his book Botany of Desire, where he claims that mind altering substances like pot serve to improve the mutation/crossover of cultural memes (thus serving some evolutionary purpose). It’s a very entertaining chapter, especially when you find out that he grew pot in his own Connecticut backyard…until the chief of police stopped by one day.

    And the U.S. is insane, absolutely insane, for its “war on drugs”.

  3. #3 amybuilds
    January 18, 2008

    Most certainly Friday…

  4. #4 George
    January 19, 2008

    Nice, but it is not that new, it is from July 2007. Despite this the next interesting question is what rule the many other ingredients in the Cannabis (-Smoke) are playing in getting afraid or happy. Not to mentioned set and setting.

  5. #5 Pawlie Kokonuts
    January 19, 2008

    Intriguing semantically, isn’t it, the way our society uses the term ‘drugs,’ not carefully discriminating between licit or illicit, useful or not. The video was pretty darn funny — and I haven’t touched weed since 1979. In practical terms, that video would likely be more effective than a lot of other attempts in preventing pot us. I guess. Still funny.

  6. #6 Torben Bo Hansen
    January 21, 2008

    If you have not read “www.thelostword.dk” do it.It is about the religious use of Cannabis sativa.

  7. #7 Richard Bastian
    January 22, 2008

    I rather see people smoke a little pot than drink alchol.
    Never have I seen anyone commit any type of crime behind the use of smoking pot.
    No arguments, no fights, stealing, traffic accidents.
    Compair that to drinking alchol and the list of not only crimes, but untold suffering in loss of life due to drinking and driving is beyond comprehension.
    I would bet any amount of money you wish to wager that if the government could find a way to tax pot, it would be legal tomorrow.
    Why in the world would the government get behind the use of alchol when it’s a far more dangrious drug than pot?
    It’s high time that the government stays out of our personal life in telling us how we can and cannot live our lives.

  8. #8 Ellen
    January 28, 2008

    Loved the “You-Tube” clip! As I smiled, musing about “back in the day” at college, a fund-raiser from my alma mater happened to call. Talk about snapping a person out of a good buzz! For those of you awaiting the legalization of pot, good luck with that… Probably not happening.

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