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There is no dearth of studies unleashing the negative effects of marijuana. This study by scientists at the University of Ottawa has revealed the precise mechanism involved in memory deterioration caused by use of marijuana.

Though initial studies have revealed the role of neurons in harming the memory following marijuana consumption, this study put forth a different facet to it. According to the team, a certain kind of brain cell called astrocytes or astroglia could be the principal culprit in memory distortion. Professionals found that the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana namely THC affected memory by influencing astroglia directly. This effect seemed to be independent of the drug’s impact on neurons of the brain.

Professionals are on the lookout for ways to target the receptors on neurons by leaving the astroglia out, which may cancel marijuana’s destructive effects on working memory. This is precisely because Cannabinoid type-1 (CB1Rs) receptors that react to the drug vary with the kind of cell they are present on. If the astroglia is left untouched, there is a possibility that the ill effects of cannabis is restricted to prevent loss of memory.

However, the main highlight of the analysis is that the side-effects of marijuana stem from the action of the psychoactive constituent on astrocytes. This finding could pave the path to development of treatment strategies for other memory problems like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s too.

The report is published in the recent issue of the journal, Cell.