mice for cannabis research
mice for cannabis research

Why Mice are Perfect for Marijuana Research?

Sharing brain structure and genes with humans, mice are great for testing out THC products

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Thursday Feb 18, 2021

Why are mice perfect for marijuana research?

marijuana mouse research

The marijuana industry is growing rapidly. Within a couple of years it has become one of the most profitable plant sectors globally; as more investors provide funds for cultivation, research, clinical studies, and so on. Cannabis enthusiasts all over are also pushing for its legalization in places where it isn’t legalized.


It should be noted that extensive works of research being conducted by experts are very expensive, and as such the lion share of funds invested often goes towards research. Without marijuana research, the world will not be able  to fully maximize all that cannabis has to offer. 


For research to be considered successful, the findings must be tested on the species for which the product is created. Unfortunately, cannabis lab research is illegal in most countries, and human beings cannot be used to ascertain the impact of marijuana. So how can testing happen with such constrictions?


In countries and states without such restrictions, marijuana research is often done on mice, and the results so far have been excellent. But, “why mice?” this is a question that has been lingering on the minds of many. Let’s find answers! 


A closer look

Generally, mice and rats are the most preferred animals for testing in labs, especially when it entails a product to be used by human beings. For example, specific medical treatments for terminal diseases such as cancer are only approved when there is a higher survival rate with the product tested on mice. 


Mice are similar to human beings in different areas.

The reliance on mice is not because they are marked as “Lab-friendly” animals but because they are quite similar to human beings on so many levels. The similarities cut across psychology and anatomy such that they show the same reactions as human beings when exposed to a product. When mice are exposed to marijuana ta the lab during research, the lab scientist can ascertain human response by observing how the mice behave. Therefore, to understand the impact of marijuana on human beings, mice are required in the lab. 


Through mice, the psychoactive effects of marijuana can be studied.

Additionally, mice offer a great way to monitor the psychoactive effects of marijuana on individuals. The psychoactive effects here refers to how chemical substances alter a person’s mental state by changing how the nervous system works. Marijuana can have damaging impacts on individuals when abused or used with the wrong proportion, and the effects start from malfunctions in the brain. The only way to ascertain how these psychoactive effects can be minimized in humans is to use mice in the research labs to see how marijuana affects them. 


Humans and mice share genes. 

Mice are also perfect for marijuana research because both species share more than 90% of the 30,000 genes they embody. This genetic similarity enables researchers to predict and uncover how marijuana will interact with the cells, tissues, and organs in the human body. This genetic connection between human beings and mice also explains why mice are used in labs when testing for a new drug that will fight off a particular disease. The answer to how effective a drug will be can be derived from an observation of genes, and mice are the closest to human beings in this regard. 


The mice growth and age timeline

Mice mature just as quickly as they reproduce, but they only live for about two years, which means they are the ideal lab species to measure an animal’s lifetime. Like a dog, the lifetime results might take longer than ten years if other animals were used. But with mice, their short lifespan was crucial with the marijuana research that discovered how aging reversed in mice. This discovery unraveled by researchers, birthed the idea that marijuana can be used to treat age-related medical cases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

If a donkey was used in this research, the donkey might have to be allowed to live for a long time (until it gets old) before gaining findings from the analysis. Yet, mice were just right as research from The Hebrew University showed that mice at 18-months treated with marijuana retained their memory while another mouse of the same age not treated with marijuana experienced memory loss.


Mice are active and social creatures.

In carrying out marijuana research, aside from the health implications and possibilities the plant holds, researchers are also seeking an understanding of its impact on human behavior. Again, mice are perfect for this research because they are socially observable animals with similar social behaviors to human beings. For example, researchers first discovered that chronic marijuana use could lead to dependence and other behavior-altering effects through mice. Researchers observed that uncontrolled marijuana contributed to anxiety as manifested through restless behavior in mice and sometimes less social activity by being withdrawn. Scientists also discovered the antidepressant effect of marijuana in mice through their show of decreased activity (mice are mostly active). The excessive administration of cannabis on mice also led to the animal showcasing signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder. These side effects of marijuana were discovered when mice were used in the lab, and now, because of this research pathway, marijuana users are better advised on dosages and applications.


Researchers are the frontline personnel putting in all the work and effort to ensure that marijuana is safe for use. Today, there are multiple ways of using marijuana with varying health and skincare (CBD Oil) products. Still, these options are only made possible by researchers who have worked on the pros and cons with mice and watch for reactions.


From the extensive reasons above on why mice are perfect for marijuana research, one would think it should remain the preferred lab species of use for marijuana. However, mice are only a temporary option because of the illegal status of marijuana in some states and countries. Until legality is achieved across the board, mice have proven to be the safest option for scientists and marijuana researchers.


Bottom line


While it is safe to project that the marijuana market has a promising future for investors, manufacturers, and users. It is essential to attribute the bulk of this success to the brilliant work being done by researchers, they're the real MVPs.








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