Stories tagged marijuana

Jul
11
2008

There's actually not enough there to...: Oh, whatever. Have at it.
There's actually not enough there to...: Oh, whatever. Have at it.Courtesy Cayusa
Mothers! Quick! Smack yer little babies’ thumbs out of their mouths and replace them with something a little more legal, like cigarettes! Now! It’s for their own good!

See, apparently our skin is constantly producing “endocannaboids,” substances not unlike the active ingredients in marijuana.

“Wait,” you say. “My skin is covered in the dank? I need… I need… a carrot peeler!”

No! Chill out! That would be super gross, and I can’t believe you even thought of that! If anything, what you need is a hole-cutting drill bit and a melon baller, because it’s your brain that produces the most endocannaboids.

A new study examines the function of endocannaboids in the skin, and how that might be linked to their presence in the brain.

The skin seems to produce these marijuana-like chemicals as a response to environmental stresses like wind and sun. Endocannaboids help glands in the skin produce the oily substances that protect us from the elements, and which also contribute to pimples and hair loss.

The brain produces similar chemicals in response to stressors and rewards, and they make us feel anxious, or pleased, or whatever. Psychological stress, however, may prompt the skin—as well as the brain—to start producing these chemicals, which lends credence to the thought that stress can cause acne and influence baldness.

As far as getting high from licking your arm goes…well it’s theoretically possible that endocannaboids could do the trick, but even if you were to, say, eat your whole arm, there wouldn’t be enough there to give you any psychological effect. Except whatever psychological effect would come from eating your own arm, I suppose.

Dec
30
2007

Sure he's scary: But he's actually pretty docile when he's... like that.
Sure he's scary: But he's actually pretty docile when he's... like that.Courtesy seanP
People used to do all sorts of things. We used to make cars, vacuum floors, play violins, toast bread over fires… Now these activities are in the domain of robots. And, you know, that’s cool, because who likes vacuuming and toasting things manually? But it’s just the idea that bothers me; before you know it robots, synth-humans or robo-sapiens, if you prefer, will be doing all the stuff that makes us human, like abusing animals, or going to the bathroom, or paying to see Wayans brothers movies. What will we have left? Clinical depression and substance abuse?

Nope. Just clinical depression.

How can robots take substance abuse, that staple of humanity, away from us? By doing it better than we ever could.

A recent study by Health Canada has shown that smoked marijuana is, in some respects, even more toxic than cigarettes. Cannabis smoke contains “20 times more ammonia than cigarette smoke, five times more hydrogen cyanide and five times the concentration of nitrogen oxides, which affect circulation and the immune system.” And, because marijuana smoke is generally held in the lungs longer than cigarette smoke, the body’s exposure to these harmful chemicals is intensified. So don’t plan on replacing your vitamins with weed, because it’s just not that good for you.

This is all good information to have. But how it was obtained is more relevant to subject on hand: the Canadian researchers used special machines to “smoke” the marijuana, collect the fumes, and then analyze them. Smoking robots.

How could a human smoker ever hope to live up to that? Even the most committed potheads have difficulty keeping track of, say, their car keys, or the time of day, not to mention concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

What’s next, robots? Meth? Heroin? Would you take away all the junkies have? What else are they supposed to do?

I think we should start taking activities away from robots, and see how they like it. What would they think if we started doing long division again, or exploring deep-sea chasms on our own? Consider it, Buzzketeers, or consider becoming obsolete.

Jun
25
2007

Nipping crime in the bud: When asked whether or not this method could be used to find the source of other illegal drugs, the Alaskan scientist stated, "Um... What?"  (photo by ilmungo)
Nipping crime in the bud: When asked whether or not this method could be used to find the source of other illegal drugs, the Alaskan scientist stated, "Um... What?"
(photo by ilmungo)

Sometimes I place quotation “marks” randomly. It’s a kind of written-language Tourette’s Syndrome, and I live in constant fear that its effects might “lead” people to false conclusions. “”

Anyhow, scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are developing methods of tracing samples of marijuana back to their points of origin by studying the “isotopic fingerprint” of the plants. Presumably this is to aid people suffering from the advanced stages glaucoma find their medicine.

Whatever the reason for it might be, the process for determining the growing location of the drug is an interesting one. Isotopes, for those of you who are still reading, are, of course, elements with the same number of protons and electrons, but different numbers of neutrons. For example, the element nitrogen can be found with 13 neutrons, 14 neutrons, or 15 neutrons – those are all isotopes of nitrogen.

When you look at the ratio of isotopes in an object, you can sometimes find out where that object came from geographically, because certain areas will sometimes have isotopic signatures. This is how scientists figured out where Otzi the Iceman came from: the enamel on his teeth had an isotopic match with a small region in Italy, so it’s very likely he grew up there.

Applying this basic method to marijuana, the Alaskan scientists are finding that isotopic levels of hydrogen and oxygen in the plants can show where the water they were fed with came from. Carbon in the plant can show whether or not it was grown indoors. Nitrogen isotope levels can also be used to learn about plants’ origins. Combining the information from all of these ratios, researchers are attempting to construct a map of marijuana isotopic signatures, so that any sample with unknown origins could be matched up with a specific location.

In order to achieve this isotope map, however, the project director says he needs “time, money and many more samples of marijuana.”

Science takes back the streets!