Are we jokin' about your tokin'?

One study suggests pot good for blues, another says bad for behaviour

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Feeling blue? New research suggests rolling a fattie will turn that frown upside-down.

A study conducted by researchers at McGill University found that in low doses THC acts as an effective anti-depressant. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active ingredient in cannabis.

But the study found another interesting anomaly " high doses of THC can actually worsen psychiatric conditions such as depression or psychosis.

Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry at McGill, led the study.

“We did the study because we were seeing anecdotal evidence that cannabis affected mood, and that certain antidepressant-like properties were observed,” Dr. Gobbi said.

Dr. Gobbi explained the study used a synthetic form of THC in an attempt to document potential changes in serotonin levels " serotonin plays an important role in moods. With small doses of THC, increases in serotonin levels were noticed.

But the possible benefits were severely negated after a certain point, Dr. Gobbi added.

“Though we’ll need a different study to determine what level [causes a change], we know that there is a negative reaction,” Gobbi said.

When asked whether an accurate “healthy” does of cannabis could be put into street terms, Dr. Gobbi was hesitant.

“It’s hard to compare between street doses and our laboratory test, mainly because THC content differs depending on the grade of cannabis purchased,” Dr. Gobbi explained.

The McGill study contrasts with another study recently published by the University of Bedfordshire in Great Britain.

This new study has found that heavy cannabis use by disadvantaged youth can severely hamper social transition.

The report explained: “In some cases heavy or regular cannabis use is just as likely to be symptomatic of problematic transitions as it is to be their cause.”

The study also uncovered evidence that authority figures may overlook cannabis use.

“[Professionals] may not take a young person’s cannabis use seriously.

“Our data suggest something of a gulf in understanding between older professionals and young users in relation to both the potential harms and the benefits of regular cannabis use.”

Although Dr. Margaret Melrose, a researcher for the British study, was unable to comment on the McGill study, she was able to talk about some of the other benefits of cannabis.

“The young people we spoke to thought there were [benefits] " in particular they thought the benefits were being able to relax, forget about their worries and socialize with their friends.”

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