You need more green — and we’re not talking about kale salads here. Pot culture is more prevalent than ever, from weed Keurigs, app-based weed delivery services and a marijuana-friendly gym in San Francisco, and states like California are getting closer and closer to totally legalizing weed. And now, there’s even more evidence that pot could serve a medical purpose. A new study claims that smoking marijuana could actually prevent memory problems, despite what typical pothead behavior might make you think.

Female marijuana abuse.

Researchers at the Salk Institute in San Diego recently published their findings on marijuana’s therapeutic potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease. Their study shows that the chemical compounds in cannabis actually help prevent brain decay, protein build-up and cell death that can lead to memory problems with aging.

The Salk scientists tested their hypothesis by altering nerve cells in a lab to produce high levels of amyloid, a protein in the brain that can build up and form plaque deposits, which can accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s. When they injected the cells with isolated THC, they found the THC was able to remove those deposits, which theoretically would improve people’s memory.

These findings are huge, given that there are no drugs currently available to effectively slow down the rate of brain cell death associated with neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. THC interacts directly with the brain’s receptors, as opposed to other drug treatments for Alzheimer’s, which interact with other parts of the brain and are more focused on managing the disease once it’s in full swing rather than preventing it.

This study hasn’t been tested on actual people yet, and more research is necessary to determine what strains of marijuana would be most effective. But don’t hold your breath: In an interview with The Observer, lead Salk researcher Dr. David Schubert said it will be difficult to coordinate more studies and get widespread Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approval on marijuana for medical use. “The government doesn’t want to fund clinical trials and drug companies can’t make a profit,” he says. “Until the social structure changes and the laws change, it’s gonna be difficult to sort this out.” Too bad, as this treatment for such a horrible disease sounds promising.

How do you feel about medical marijuana? Has it ever helped you with a health issue? Tweet us @BritandCo!

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