Watching Grass Grow 

Okay, where were we? Hard to remember with all these distractions, and ... well, with a fridge full of goodies just sitting there, saying eat me, gobble me up ... Hmmm, anyhow, as we were saying, Yep, early Dylan was the best Dylan, and ... What were we saying?

We jest. This is not a representation of our own clean and sober and ever-nose-to-the-grindstone thoughts, nor, we can assure you, does it indicate the thought processes of Dr. Mahmoud A. ElSohly or any of his colleagues at the Marijuana Project of the National Center for Natural Products Research, housed at the University of Mississippi.

But those, er, symptoms that so many members of the current power generation may recall from their youth (misspent or otherwise) are the very same mannerisms induced in subjects of this internationally famous research project, which has been going on — under our noses, so to speak — at Ole Miss since 1968.

For the record, Dr. ElSohly says, "I have never smoked marijuana, even though I have all the supply I need."

He can say that again. Crops of various degrees of potency are grown on what is now 12 acres, up from six acres a few years ago and from one-and-a-half acres when the project began in 1968.

The Marijuana Project owed its creation, obviously, to the hue and cry about what had obviously become a major social occurrence back there in the late '60s, and it has continued to be federally funded because of the enduring nature of those concerns, as well as newer notions that the practice being studied may have beneficial medical consequences.

In an address to the Memphis Rotary Club on Tuesday, Dr. ElSohly enumerated the medical problem areas for which marijuana is now known — thanks largely to the ongoing research at Ole Miss — to be useful: among them, AIDS, glaucoma, pre-operative anesthesia, smoking cessation, and the list is growing. It is no accident that, in an escalating number of states, marijuana has been legalized as a drug of choice for several of these conditions. And, yes, to be honest, in a few of these states — California, in particular — restrictions have been relaxed to the point that recreational use of marijuana also has become commonplace (though not that much more commonplace, interestingly, than it was in the days of its official infamy).

Two caveats here: First, the crops at Ole Miss, though bountiful and including every variety known to your casual and not-so-casual pothead, are heavily guarded by hardware, electronics, and ample human security. And the other caveat: Yes, for all the giddy pleasures induced by marijuana and TCH, heavy concentrations have also been found to induce paranoia. (Some here gathered surely knew that already.)

One other thing: Did you know that the Ole Miss project uses suppositories as one of its delivery systems?


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