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Marijuana for the Memory

It's not as dangerous as scientiststhink it shouldbe, and it can even be consideredmedicine. Also,it may affect different people indifferent ways.

The more researchers study the effects of marijuana, themore evidence scientists find that specific elements in itcan be good for the aging brain by reducing inflammation andpossibly even stimulating the formation of new brain cells.Development of a legal drug that contains certain propertiessimilar to those in marijuana might help prevent or delaythe onset of Alzheimer's disease. Though the exact cause ofAlzheimer?s remains unknown, chronic inflammation in thebrain is believed to contribute to memory impairment.

Any new drug's properties would resemble those oftetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactivesubstance in the cannabis plant, but would not share itshigh-producing effects. THC joins nicotine, alcohol andcaffeine as agents that, in moderation, have shown someprotection against inflammation in the brain that mighttranslate to better memory late in life.

Psychologist Yannick Marchalant says, "When we're young, wereproduce neurons and our memory works fine. When we age,the process slows down, so we have a decrease in new cellformation in normal aging. You need those cells to come backand help form new memories, and we found that this THC-likeagent can influence creation of those cells."

Psychologist Gary Wenk adds, "It's not that everythingimmoral is good for the brain. It's just that there are somesubstances that millions of people for thousands of yearshave used in billions of doses, and we?re noticing there?s alittle signal above all the noise."

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