"An ingenious set of experiments," The New Scientist reports, "could open the way to cannabis-like drugs that provide pain relief without causing unwanted highs." First of all: Unwanted? Second of all: What is wrong with you, scientists??
The new study, undertaken by Li Zhang of the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, posits that THC (the active component in cannabis) is able to dull pain by binding to receptors for the neurotransmitter glycine—meaning that its painkiller function is separable from its "get totally baked" function, which acts on cannabinoid type-1 receptors.
So if you love the painkilling and sense-dulling effects of marijuana, but hate "unpleasant side effects such as hallucinations" and eating mozzarella sticks, you may soon have "non-psychoactive forms of cannabis" to consume. Good for you! But for the rest of us, this is terrible news.
See, medical marijuana, as everyone in California knows, is the acceptable way to make weed legal (for white people—it's still illegal if you're black!). Talk up marijuana's painkilling, appetite-inducing, nausea-killing effects, and you can convince a liberal legislature to semi-legalize it, even though it still induces (ha) "unwanted highs." So long as pot has both a legitimate medical function and gets you stoned, you just need a doctor's note and one of those cards to get as baked as you want.
But! Develop medical marijuana without all the good stuff in marijuana, and all of a sudden those with a legitimate medical need can take that instead—and those without a legitimate medical need (but with a legitimate need to watch Holy Mountain) are left without. So, scientists, please: Keep this quiet, okay? Some of us kind of like those "unpleasant side effects."
[New Scientist; image via Shutterstock]