INDO-US VENTURE TO CRACK MARIJUANA MYSTERY
PGI Gets Funds From US Agency For Research
CHANDIGARH: A one-way ticket to a life of madness and despair or an
ecstatic trip to nirvana? Whichever way you look at it, marijuana is
mystifying. And Almighty America is not comfortable with mysteries.
In quest of final answers, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of
the US has now joined hands with the PGI's department of neurology and
psychology. They will initiate extensive research to find out how
marijuana impacts on the brain.
It's not as though the US of A has suddenly woken up to the marijuana
madness: it is still the most-used illegal drug in America. More than
71 million Americans have tried the joint or pot, as it's partakers
fondly call it, according to national surveys, and about 11 million
smoke it regularly.
The NIH, the steward of medical and behavioural research for the nation, an
agency under the US department of health and human services, is pumping
$80,000 into the research project. Dr S Prabhakar, head of the PGI's
department of neurology, told The Times of India: "Nobody knows the
intricacies of how the brain works in the first place. And we know even
less about how it works with a shot of marijuana inside it. Our research
will focus on what effect marijuana has on functioning of the brain, what
are the structural changes it produces, if at all there are changes."
PGI is the second centre in the country to get funds from the
prestigious American agency; the NIMHANS of Bangalore has been given
money for Aids research. "Although the number of joint smokers in the
US is high but multi-drug use by smokers makes it difficult to study
the effects of marijuana in isolation. Here we have ample number of
cases who do not use any form of intoxication except joint,"says Dr
"Research will include detailed memory testing of the sample, detailed
psychological functioning, magnetic resonance imaging and
sophisticated bio-medical tests," says Dr Prabhakar.
Marijuana triggers a mild euphoria and increased sensitivity to bodily
sensations, along with a range of other perceptual distortions that
are usually experienced as pleasant. It is not a single drug molecule,
like alcohol or cocaine, but a mix of more than 420 different chemical
components. They're so different; in fact 61 of them are unique
What doctors know now is that components of marijuana act like a
feel-good chemical bomb that explodes on contact. But pot changes more
than just the way people feel. It tilts the balance of chemicals in
the brain that regulate mood, energy, appetite and attention, affects
memory and learning processes and can cause forgetfulness and reduced