Just like Roger Goodell’s safety rules have made it almost impossible for NFL players to hit each other properly, and Homeland Security’s strict enforcement has taken much of the ease out of airports and flying, there are always powers that be willing to trade 75% of the fun for 5% of the safety. Now scientists have discovered a compound that can stop the THC in marijuana from getting people high! Okay, so maybe those three things aren’t very comparable in the least, but I usually come up with better examples when…uhhh…when I’m high. I think that’s what I was going for.
A research team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse realized the drug Ro 61-8048 is capable of blocking the ability of THC to affect the production of dopamine within the brain’s reward centers, making continued use of the drug essentially meaningless to the user. If the brain doesn’t feel any euphoria, then your stomach doesn’t feel the pain from eating a whole slab of bacon. Well, assuming the compound will have the same affect on humans.
The squirrel monkeys used in the tests were taught to push a lever in order to self-administer doses of THC. Once their lever pushing reached Thurgood Jenkins levels of addiction, the Ro 61-8048 was introduced to the monkey’s systems, which depleted the enjoyment of continuous THC use, which then led to the monkeys giving up on the lever (and watching the first 10 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey on a loop). It’s worth noting that these results also apply to a group of rats that were dosing themselves with the synthetic THC substitute WIN 55,212-2.
But what about relapsing? It turns out the animals who were just naturally weaned off of THC went right back to frequent usage once the drug was reintroduced to their bodies. Meanwhile, those who were given the R0 61-8048 were free from the relapse, and went right on calling those other subjects a bunch of lazy hippies.
The potential that this compound could have is pretty huge. For one, it could be used to help anyone who feels their weed addiction is legitimately psychological and can’t stop. More so, this will help the hordes of patients who use medical marijuana to kill the pain of whatever cancer or disease they’re afflicted with. Many of those people are only interested in the relief of cannabidiol-rich strains, which does not have the same psychotropic effect that THC has. In other words, it becomes a little more medical in the eyes of those who see the entire push for legalization as a sign this country is spinning around the drain.
What’s really important here is that marijuana is just legal enough for scientists to finally get back to the research that has seen many roadblocks over the years. You can read their study in a recent edition of the journal Nature. Will it earn someone a Nobel Prize in medicine? Maybe the Nobuzz Prize though. (rim shot)