Jumping the Hurdles: Cannabis Research and Mental Health

The bewildering humming sounds resembling jackhammer’s fill the free space between my brain and the inside of the MRI machine.

Lying motionless to such a degree that I focus on my lungs retracting and expanding, ensuring my slight movements will not alter the instruments outcomes.

A million dollar state-of-the-art machine braking down boundaries, allowing the human brain to be observed with the patient unharmed, let alone inebriated on cannabis.

As an advocate for marijuana and its obvious positive panacea applications, I have volunteered for a first of its kind medical research project, joint funded by my current University. The research evolves around schizophrenia and exploring the hippocampus, the memory learning and emotional centre of the brain (located in the medial temporal lope). The MRI machine takes photos of the brain once the volunteer has consumed one of the following: Cannabidiol (CBD) compound, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound or a Placebo compound through an administered vaporizer.

The team was extremely meticulous at obtaining and preserving as much information possible, with constant blood tests from a cannula and repetition of questions concerning my mental state, and of course a box that I swear contained the perfect munchies. Everything was conducted in an analytical manner with an essence of elation towards the study. With the growing necessity for this type of research and by overlooking the negative legal and social connotations they are able to explore taboo aspects of society helping secure human kinds future.

Excerpts of the Study

– Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug worldwide

– To examine the acute effects of cannabis on sensory memory and cognitive function in long-term cannabis users.

– Investigate what makes some individuals vulnerable to psychosis if they use cannabis… brains response to cannabis when people are engaged in tasks of short-term memory in an intoxicated state.

– THC thought to be responsible for many of the changes in perception and behaviour

– Cannabidiol is the second most common ingredient… thought to reduce some of the effects of THC

– There has not been very much research which has examined the effect of cannabis on memory or brain activity when participants are intoxicated

– Understand more precisely the effects of both THC and CBD… The way in which the brain responds in the presence of cannabis will help us to understand some of the mechanisms that may be involved in inducing psychosis in vulnerable individuals

– Evidence to suggest that long-term cannabis use may have a damaging effect on short-term memory and learning…in some vulnerable individuals, long term chronic cannabis use has been associated with the development of psychotic symptoms.

Mental Health is not a popular issue to address, with the majority suffering alone and in private. Ashamed of their uncontrollable emotions, reality and the self-image their mind formulates through a chemical imbalance. Yet, more often then not, we know of; or have been subjected to a family member quietly self-managing their mental condition.

Until we as a society treat mental and physical illness in the same light, boundaries will always impede us. The argument that knowledge equals security and understanding in a complicated world, is applicable here; what we can’t see can’t explain and can’t empathize with, enables trepidation to form. This is why intrinsic work reminiscent of this MRI needs to be implemented.

Society should be proud these intelligent-entrepreneurial scholars are figuratively side stepping the present legal hurdles and approaching future medicine head on. I am now signing up for an EEG/ERP study with cannabis, organized by some of same scientists. I am excited there are more studies to come and more opportunities to become a guinea pig.

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