Scientists in Spain believe they have found a way to separate the "medical benefits" of cannabis from the "unwanted side effects". By isolating a specific pathway of serotonin receptors (namely 5-HT2AR), the researchers believe they can maintain the pain relief and tumor-inhibiting qualities of THC, whilst ridding the user of any cognitive impairment.
The potential medical uses of cannabis’ psycho-active ingredient THC have long been discussed in the medical community, with some researchers touting a long list of benefits including pain relief, cancer inhibition, glaucoma, treatment of epilepsy and Chron’s disease, delay of Alzheimer’s disease, and many more. However, advances in this area have long been impeded by cannabis’ illicit drug classification, as well as the social stigma and cognitive drawbacks associated with "getting high" including memory loss, anxiety and dependance.
The research involved behavioral studies carried out in mice lacking the serotonin receptor, but should it continue past animal and clinical trials, an interesting array of questions could arise: How much of cannabis’ medical benefits rely on the dissociating cognitive qualities of THC? Just how "unwanted" are the cognitive side effects of cannabis use? And would the legalization movement have quite so many vehemently passionate advocates if cannabis use didn’t make them giggle so much?
The findings were published this month in the journal PLOS Biology.