Have you ever eaten a single potato chip or French fry that sent you spiraling into nearly uncontrollable gluttony? Scientists are now saying that these sober binges are actually quite similar to pot smokers’ notorious bouts of the munchies: fatty foods cause your body to release marijuana-like chemicals called endocannabinoids, and this likely compels you to continue stuffing your face.
If one London art gallery is correct in predicting the future of police surveillance, we may have to redefine the meaning of ‘sting’ operation: one artist’s mock-interview with a (fake) beekeeping police officer describes how bees can be used to track down growers of illegal plants–and the scary thing is that this art video is only a hop and a skip from reality.
An exhibition called “High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture” at London’s Wellcome Collection features a short film by artist Thomas Thwaites, entitled “Policing Genes,” in which a mock police officer explains the latest in surveillance trickery. Essentially, the police officers tend bee hives, and when the bees return from their daily pollen-hunt, the officers not only check the bees for pollen from such plants as marijuana, but can also use software to decode the dance of the honeybee. And since pollen-laden bees dance to tell the other bees where they found the pollen, decoding the dance would tell the police the exact location of the illegal plants.
Detroit’s economy might be seriously suffering, but for one industry, business is booming: Medical marijuana. Since Michigan enacted a law legalizing medicinal marijuana last April, the crop has generated “tens of millions of dollars collectively,” according to a statement from Med Grow Cannabis College, located just outside of Detroit:
“”With a vast majority of the community in Metro Detroit supporting safe medical marijuana use, many people are looking into the industry as a viable career path,” said [president and founder of Med Grow] Nick Tennant.”
The school opened in September and has since had more than a thousand graduates. The demand for doctor-advised, medical use of marijuana seems to be growing like a weed, so to speak. And according to Med Grow, the canna-business is an open field with plenty of room for those left unemployed in the state’s infamously bad economy:
• One market that has boomed in the recession: marijuana growing.
• Think you can hide in modern society? Good luck.
• Digitizing patient medical records? YES PLEASE!
• Isabella Rossellini’s legendary bug porn, profiled in depth.
• Want to make more money? Try being nice to other people (seriously).
• Happy 25th birthday, DNA fingerprinting! Now change.
• And finally, 18 awesome animated mad scientists (not that we’re supporting stereotypes that all scientists are crazy…just the animated ones).
Pot-smokers, beware: You may want to avoid dieting before that next company drug test. New research shows that even if a person hasn’t smoked marijuana in months, he or she could still test positive for the drug after dieting or beginning a heavy exercise ritual.
In a recent study using rats, Australian scientists found that extreme stress or major dieting can result in a positive drug test, even if the tester hasn’t smoked pot in weeks.
Fat cells love the psychoactive ingredient, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), found in pot, and they absorb it—and hold onto it—extremely well. Even long after a person stops smoking up, his body undergoes changes as a result of exercising or shedding pounds, and these changes can cause THC to be released into the blood stream once those fat cells start to break down. New Scientist reports:
Jonathon Arnold and colleague Iain McGregor first exposed THC-laden fat cells taken from rats to the stress hormone ACTH. They found that the hormone increased the speed of release of THC from the cells.
Then they injected rats with 10 milligrams per kilogram of THC (equivalent to a person smoking between five and 10 cannabis cigarettes, depending on their strength) every day for 10 days. Two days later, they injected a third of the rats with ACTH, deprived another third of food for 24 hours, with the rest as controls.
Blood tests showed that the rats who where on diets had twice as much THC in their systems—though the effects only lasted for two days. The scientists will have to test out their theory over a longer time scale, but the true test will be whether humans show identical effects. And it can’t come too soon: In this economy, you don’t want anything to get in the way of your employment.
Image: flickr/ BodhiSativa Photography
• Forget Graceland: If you’re in Huntsville, Ala., be sure to visit the graves of spacemonkeys Able and Baker, the first monkeys to survive a space flight. You can find the graves easily—they’re strewn with bananas.
• If you’re reading this, you have a UFO to thank—at least according to a Russian scientist, who claims an alien spacecraft saved earth from an approaching meteorite by smashing into it a century ago.
• To test whether beer or a joint does more damage to driving skills, researchers got students drunk, or high on marijuana. The results? Stoned drivers drive significantly slower than drunk ones, but—surprise!—both groups drove less safely than their placebo’ed peers.
• Think you’re smart? Not compared to this 16-year-old Iraqi. It took him only four months to solve a math problem that had been baffling academics for 300 years.
Discoblog: Did An Alien Octopus Destroy a British Wind Turbine?
Discoblog: Can Scientists Put All the Good Parts of Pot in a Pill? Discoblog: Where No Film Has Gone Before: Star Trek Screened in Space
Everyone can make “marijuana” in their heads. We don’t mean this literally.
Recently, researchers found that our brains produce proteins that mimic the effects of marijuana. The active ingredient in hash—tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short—is the reason why people feel high when they smoke pot. While the exact mechanism of how the brain takes in cannabis isn’t completely understood, THC is thought to play a significant role. After marijuana is inhaled, THC enters the lungs and the bloodstream, and then attaches to a certain type of cannabinoid receptor in the brain. That’s when the known effects of pot start to kick in: A person’s appetite increases (a.k.a the munchies), pain dissipates, and a heightened mental state sets in.
The psychoactive effect of pot is widely used in the medical community to treat symptoms of pain and inflammation in a slew of chronic illnesses. Now, Mount Sinai researchers have figured out which proteins made naturally in the brain can act like THC, so that someday they can produce marijuana-type drugs that don’t come with the side effects of smoking actual pot.
Scientists have discovered two pounds of a dried plant that turned out to be the oldest marijuana in the world. Inside one of the Yanghai Tombs excavated in the Gobi Desert, a team of researchers found the cannabis packed into a wooden bowl resting inside a 2,700-year-old grave. It was placed near the head of a blue-eyed, 45-year-old shaman among other objects like bridles and a harp to be used in afterlife.
At first, the researchers thought the dried weed was coriander. Then they spent 10 months getting the cannabis from the tomb in China to a secret lab in England. Finally, the team put the stash through “microscopic botanical analysis” including carbon dating and genetic analysis, and discovered the stash was really pot.
German doctors recently solved a gripping medical mystery. Over a period of three to four months, 29 young people in the Leipzig area went to four hospitals with abdominal cramps, nausea, anemia, fatigue, blue gums, and diseased blood cells—and one patient had nearly gone insane. All were diagnosed with lead intoxication, which hadn’t been seen in Germany for decades. The patients were treated effectively using chelation therapy, but the authorities were scratching their heads over how these patients managed to expose themselves to such large quantities of lead.