Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Naming, Shaming and Stereotype Threat

Research reveals mixed results for the effects of cannabis on cognitive functioning.

These divergent results might stem from stereotype threat (ST), which occurs when individuals believe that a group to which they belong is inferior, resulting in poor test performance.
Widespread media coverage of purported cannabis-related deficits in cognitive functioning may elicit ST among cannabis users, particularly among men, who may be more likely than women to identify with the cannabis-user stereotype.
(Philipstown, Napier anyone?)

Gender moderates the impact of stereotype threat on cognitive function in cannabis users.  Looby Alison; Earleywine Mitch,  Addictive behaviors 2010;35(9):834-9 University at Albany, Department of Psychology, Albany, NY 12222, United States.
To investigate this hypothesis, cannabis users (30 male, 27 female) read a summary of research indicating either that cannabis produced deficits (ST condition), or that cannabis actually created no changes in cognitive functions. Participants then completed cognitive tests. Examination of the gender x condition interaction revealed significant results on 4 tests: the California Verbal Learning Test-II immediate recall task, the Controlled Oral Word Association Test for number of words generated and number of switches between clusters, and the Digit Symbol Substitution Task.

Males exposed to ST performed worse on all tests compared to men not exposed to ST, while women exposed to ST performed better than women not exposed.

These results suggest that cognitive deficits observed in male cannabis users may be attributed to ST rather than decreased functioning.

Surprisingly, women in the ST condition scored higher than controls.

Perhaps female users do not identify with the typical cannabis stereotype. This study highlights the importance of disconfirming relevant stereotypes prior to examination of the cognitive abilities of cannabis users.
[ I also found  Peer influence and gender differences in problematic cannabis use among individuals with social anxiety. Journal of anxiety disorders 2006;20(8):1087-102 instructive. /Blair ]

April 12th, 2010 | by J.Marcu |
(The following post is from a Science Column which appears in the West Coast Leaf newspaper )

Each year thousands of articles are published about cannabis and cannabinoids.

Because of this promising research, scientists and doctors around the world are taking interest in cannabinoids. Part of the excitement comes from established data showing that cannabinoid receptors may be the most abundant protein in the human brain, and humans also produce a natural, THC-like compound, anandamide. In the first few months of 2010 a wide range of relevant research articles have already been published. Among the highlights: Researchers at the University of Leiden analyzed cannabis smoke and vapor by comparing their effects at the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R) (1). Both smoke and vapor activate the cannabinoid receptor equally, but vaporization is more efficient because fewer compounds are destroyed or degraded. However, what was shown for the first time was that terpenoids, the fragrant molecules such as myrcene, are a major component of the smoke and vapor.

The authors believe compounds such as myrcene may contribute to therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.
Guinea pig studies suggest that the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2R) may be helpful in preventing asthma (3). The development of asthma is linked to the activation of C-fibers, and researchers did find that CB2R activation, but not CB1R, could prevent the activation of C-fibers.Activating CB2R could be important in attenuating HIV-associated inflammation, which ultimately leads to destruction of parts of the body such as neurons, resulting in changes in cognitive and motor functions.
When HIV infects a cell, it releases viral proteins that create inflammation and attract healthy immune cells. One such viral protein called tat causes immune cells to arrive at the site of infection and usually become infected by HIV. Tat appears to be inhibited by cannabinods that activate the CB2R. THC and CP55,940 were both able to inhibit tat-mediated attraction and thus suppress this aspect of HIV/AIDS (4).

The cannabinoid receptors are also abundant in the gut. A lot of work has studied the therapeutic role of cannabinoids to treat diseases of the intestines such as infections, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, etc. Cannabinoids help control the two main functions of the gut: digestion and host defense. The collective research on this subject was reviewed and the authors suggest that academia and industry should fully develop cannabinoids as a treatment for diseases of the gastro- intestinal tract (2).

Nearly every week positive research on cannabis and cannabinoids is published by labs around the world. Despite the promising implications, the work of these pioneering scientists often goes unnoticed in media and the 'science sections' of national newspapers. Furthermore, medical schools do not provide any classes on cannabinoids, which forces patients to stay up-todate with the research on their own, in order to better inform their doctors of potential benefits of cannabis.
These examples offer a glimpse of a blossoming research field. By discussing cannabis research with doctors, other patients, friends and family you can prevent more studies from remaining unnoticed, underreported, or misunderstood.

Send your science questions to

 1) Fischedick et al. Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Binding Activity and Quantitative Analysis of Cannabis sativa L. Smoke and Vapor. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 58(2) 201—207 (2010)
2) Izzo et al. Cannabinoids and the gut: New developments and emerging concepts. Pharmacol Ther (2010).
3) Fukuda et al. The Cann. Receptor Agonist WIN 55,212-2 Inhibits Antigen-Induced Plasma Extravasation in Guinea Pig Airways. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 12;152(3):295-300 (2010)
4) Raborn et al. Cann. Inhibtion of Macrophage Migration To the TAT protein of HIV-1 is linked to the CB2 canabinoid receptor. JPET (2010).

 Blair Anderson  ‹(•¿•)›


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