Won’t Some Folks Feel Stupid if it Turns Out Marijuana Fights HIV?

Keep your government hands off my macrophages!Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceI realize expecting shame or embarrassment from most drug warriors is a bit too much, but would the possibility that cannabis actually fights HIV at least put an end to a lot of stupid arguing?

A study reported in The Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests this may be the case, as noted by Wired:

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — it's the chemical that gets the user stoned. Synthetic versions of it have been developed for research purposes, and it's this that was used to attack the HIV-1 virus, which represents the vast majority (more than 90 percent) of all HIV types.

The way it works is by interaction with the cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptor in white blood cells, specifically the macrophages. Macrophages are one of many types of white blood cell in humans. While the main cells, the lymphocytes, do the bulk of the work in fighting infection by tracking down and destroying germs with antibodies, macrophages form a kind of backup part of the immune system -- attracted to damaged cells, they surround and engulf them while also alerting lymphocytes of new dangers.

Macrophages have an unpleasant weakness, though, in that they are one of the first types of cells to be infected by HIV when it enters the body. The virus can live inside macrophages for days, weeks or months, travelling around the body, infecting other cells and acting as an extremely effective pollinator of HIV.

Stopping the HIV virus from infecting macrophages is one method researchers are investigating, as it would dramatically curtail the speed at which the infection progresses and would give time for other antiretrovirals to help keep it at bay, or even remove it.

The CB2 receptor in macrophages is stimulated normally when THC enters the bloodstream, so nothing unusual there. However, it appears that macrophages that have their CB2 receptor stimulated are stronger when it comes to fighting and weakening the HIV-1 virus.

Medical marijuana is already typically sought out by many HIV patients to ease some of the side effects of drug treatments. That marijuana may actually be helping weaken the virus as well would be a great discovery, if true. The federal government’s position (affirmed by both Democratic and Republican leadership) that marijuana has no legitimate medical use grows more and more foolish the more scientists are able to get around the Schedule 1 designation and perform research.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Warrren||

    No, they won't feel stupid. They'll find a way to be the ones who were right all along.

  • John||

    No they just won't care. Hey, if you have to die of AIDS so my kid doesn't smoke pot or I don't get hit by some crazed stoner driving and toking, then that is just the way it is going to have to be. Sorry dude.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    "If pot is legalize you WILL be hit by a crazed stoner driving and toking and your kid WILL smoke pot."

  • Warrren||

    Might be the same person.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Legalizing something inevitably leads to mandating it. [/so-con]

  • The Original Jason||

    Liberals believe the same thing.

    Just ask them what would happen if we repealed Title VII of CRA 1964. Jim Crow laws would be passed immediately!

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    Most of us know that individuals who use illegal drugs are going to get high—no matter what, so why do you not prefer they acquire them in stores that check IDs and pay taxes? Gifting the market in narcotics to ruthless criminals, foreign terrorists, and corrupt law enforcement officials is seriously compromising our future.

    Why do you wish to continue with a policy that has proven itself to be a poison in the veins of our once so "proud & free" nation? Even if you cannot bear the thought of people using drugs, there is absolutely nothing you, I, or any government can do to stop them. We have spent 40 years and trillions of dollars on this dangerous farce; Prohibition will not suddenly and miraculously start showing different results. Do you actually believe you may personally have something to lose If we were to begin basing our drug policy on science & logic instead of ignorance, hate and lies?

    Maybe you're a police officer, a prison guard, or a local/national politician. Possibly you're scared of losing employment, overtime pay, the many kickbacks, and those regular fat bribes. But what good will any of that do you once our society has followed Mexico over the dystopian abyss of dismembered bodies, vats of acid, and marauding thugs carrying gold-plated AK-47s with leopard-skinned gunstocks?

    Kindly allow us to forgo the next level of your sycophantic prohibition-engendered mayhem!

    Prohibition prevents regulation: legalize, regulate, and tax

  • Rhywun||

    We have always never been at war with drugs?

  • RandomJackass||

    Normal people probably will feel a bit stupid, but not politicians.

  • ||

    Wait, what? You mean prohibitionism is unhealthy, counterproductive, and morally unjustifiable?

    NO FUCKING WAY!

  • Loki||

    Better a million people die of an HIV infection than one person get high on TEH DEVIL WEED and enjoy it. /drug warrior retard

  • John||

    Once you have kids you will think differently Loki.

  • Almanian!||

    I smoked weed with my son. It was kind of weird, but I'll do it again.

  • John||

    You probably got on each others' nerves a lot less.

  • Almanian!||

    I don't remember....I'M SOOOOOOO WASTED!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! I'm hungry...

  • ||

    Haha, my bf once convinced my dad to have a go with us kids, and he was soooooooooo silly, he was like, "Man, you know, I know all my friends smoke with their kids, and I always thought it would be really weird. But it's not weird at all. It's awesome!"

    It was so cute.

  • ||

    I tried weed....back in 1980 or 81....I hated it. I dont smoke it.

    When my son was 19 he tried it in my presence. He didnt like it either. He doesnt smoke.

    We do occasionally drink together, which in my opinion, is more harmful than pot.

    I am not sure what your point is John.

  • DJK||

    I think you may have missed John's sarcasm. I know - he's grown a sense of humor. It's weird.

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    Prohibition has put many previously unknown and contaminated drugs on our streets —how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has escalating Murder, Theft, Muggings, and Burglaries —how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has overcrowded the courts and prisons, thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are really hurting and terrorizing others —how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has evolved local street gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, and with significant social and military resources at their disposal —how has that helped our kids?

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    Prohibition­ has helped to make all manner of substances freely available in schools, and even prisons —how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has raised gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging —how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has creating a prison-for-profit synergy with drug-lords, terrorists, and corrupt law enforcement agencies —how has that helped our kids?

    Prohibition has removed many of our cherished and important civil liberties —how has that helped our kids?

  • DJK||

    Whoosh!

  • Warrren||

    DEBBIL WEED!

  • A Serious Man||

    Why would it when the fact that it helps people with glaucoma isn't enough?

  • grey||

    Ha Ha. The truth shall never be enough; what a silly idea.

  • ||

    It's just dumb. We know it helps people who are have AIDS or are undergoing chemo combat wasting too. That should be enough to make it available at any pharmacy.

  • DJK||

    Meh. GHB is an extremely effective treatment for narcolepsy and potentially other sleep disorders. A few people pulled a few date rapes with it though and that's the end of that.

  • Almanian!||

    I see another opportunity for the Star Trek franchise. Whales saved da Erf, teh Weeeeeedz saves ManPersonkind.

    A very sappy "After School Special".

  • ||

    Commies aren't too accepting of drug habits. The Federation would never stand for it, therefore.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    You mean the Federation discovered a naturally occurring plant that if ingested would provide positive effects and save Personkind?

  • Michael||

    O.T:

    I missed AM links and don't know if this has been mentioned by anybody, but it might be of interest to at least a few folks here:

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/5.....psychiatry

  • RandomJackass||

    Wow. The cynic in me thinks they must have found something worse than DSM, but the quotes in the article indicate they seriously are calling bullshit on DSM. That's pretty incredible.

  • LarryA||

    Depends on what they replace it with. "You want to own a gun/drive a motorcycle/eat fast food/go bowling then you're crazy."

  • Malcolm Kyle||

    In addition to the many economical and societal costs of prohibition, it has a long history of driving the spread of harder or more dangerous drugs.

    MARIJUANA to dangerous synthetic concoctions —such as AM-2201, JWH-018, JWH-073, or HU-210, (called Spice or K2 etc.)
    POPPIES to morphine, to heroin, to krokodil.
    COCA to cocaine, to crack, to Paco/Kete/Bazuco/Pitillo.
    EPHEDRA to ephedrine, to methamphetamine.
    MUSHROOMS to ecstasy (MDMA), to PMMA, to MDPV, to 2CB/designers.

    At every step the reasons for the rise in popularity of the new form of the drug are one or more of the following:

    * It may be easier to smuggle.
    * It may be more addictive, thus compelling the buyer to return more frequently.
    * It may be cheaper to produce, therefore yielding more profit.
    * Like a game of "whack a mole" a shutdown of producers in one area will mean business opportunities for another set of producers with a similar product.

    Prohibition's distortion of the immutable laws of 'supply and demand' subsidizes organized crime, foreign terrorists, corrupt cops, and unconscionable politicians, while feeding the prejudices of self-appointed culture warriors everywhere. So called Tough-On-Drugs politicians have happily built careers on confusing prohibition's horrendous collateral damage with the substances that they claim to be fighting while the big losers in this battle are everybody else, especially we the taxpayers.

    Prohibition prevents regulation: Legalize, regulate and tax!

  • DJK||

    My question is what will replace the 2C- line of drugs? Those will be some seriously powerful psychoactives...

  • WomSom||

    POt is just cool like that man.

    www.Total-Anon.tk

  • Paul Pot||

    Being denied medicine that eases suffering and prolongs life is no different to torture and murder.
    Prohibition is a crime against humanity.

  • sloopyinca||

    Won’t Some Folks Feel Stupid if it Turns Out Marijuana Fights HIV?

    A few might but most of the prohibitionists consider themselves to be moral crusaders and thing AIDS is killing fags, which is A-OK to them.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement