MARIJUANA IS INFAMOUS for its ability to muddle thoughts and dull reactions. What is less well known is that it may also blunt the progression of Alzheimer's disease, which relentlessly robs its sufferers of their memories and personality. Families and individuals tormented by this deterioration may welcome such an alternative therapy, no matter how they feel about marijuana's illegal status.
“I went through several years of a son on marijuana and had him placed in a facility to be ‘dried out,’” says Ruth, age 69, of St. Louis. Even so, she says she would consider giving the drug to her 79-year-old husband, Joe, who now suffers from Alzheimer's, if it stopped his combativeness and helped to slow his memory loss. Joe is just one of 4.5 million Americans who have the neurodegenerative disorder, which usually strikes after the age of 60 and is found in nearly half of those older than 85.