NORML losers are irritating, especially when they offer trite speeches in that well-honed, nasal, fake-chill burnout tenor: “Duuuude, pot’s been, like, so crucified by the Man. It’s not bad for you. No one in the history of civilization, man, has ever died from it. Bush just profligates [sic] this bullshit propaganda to keep pot down and support his stupid drug war that only slams dudes into lifetime sentences for stashin’ a little ragin’ Cajun in their sock drawer. I mean, no way! Our founding fathers smoked it, like all the time, right? It’s nature’s medicine, man. It’s Advil.”

Well, that dimwit trustafarian with too much time and money on his hands may actually have a point. While the drug choice for burnouts the world over may dull their vocabs, insightfulness, and general appeal, it may actually stimulate cell growth in their brains.

At the University of Saskatchewan, the researcher Xia Zhang injected a synthetic cannabinoid (marijuana’s family of drugs) into an experimental group of lab rats and waited for the little beasts to drop the shades, open the Fritos, and crank up the PS2. However, the rats actually showed improved moods over their brethren in the control group (how in the hell you measure a rat’s mood is fodder for another column), and they enjoyed a substantial increase in cell growth in the hippocampus region of the brain. This area is related to emotions. Yes, that means your burner friend was right when he assured you his once-a-day pot habit was crucial for his overall ebullience (evident even when he wasn’t high).

But (whenever there’s good news about drug use, there’s always a “but,” isn’t there?), the researchers do warn kids who regularly blow smoke through a paper towel tube stuffed with fabric softener that the benefit of smoking pot does not necessarily outweigh the harm.

Hey, at least this news gives you something to say when you get busted. Just show the cop/nosy mom/overprotective brother this article and claim, “C’mon, Dude! Kind bud’s my Prozac!”