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  1. Alfa
    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
    Prabhakar.

    "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
    to
    marijuana.

    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
    concentration.

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