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The Department s mental health research is not limited to North Carolina—there were spiders in space aboard Skylab and now monkeys in Puerto Riefe j^gll fee testing marijuana.
Dr. Peter Witt, pharmacologist and director of the Re sarfeli Section of the Division of Mental H« 1th Sei dees, and Dr. John Van-denbergh, an experienced animal research ■Syttlftisl have been awarded a grant to study the effects of marijuana on monkeys in a controlled social setting. This research is the first of its kind.
Research vgMbe done in cooperation with two pharmacologists from the Richmond Medical College. The experiments are tentative set to start Nov. 4 1973.
The federal grant of $146,000 from the National Institi te of Mental Health, to be used over a three-year period, will be administered by the N.C. Foundation for Mental Health Research, Inc. Host for the study is the Caribbean Primate Research Institute. Pathological tests to determine the physiological effects of the marijuana on the monkeys will be conducted by the University of Puerto Rico.
By using a subhuman subject, the rhesus monkey of India, in their experimental setting located on a small island near the fishing village of La Parguera in southwestern Puerto Rico, scientists will be able to manipulate the monkeys while still allowing them considerable freedom in a natural setting.
This particular study is unique in that it will
Dr. John Vandenbergh (left) and Dr. Peter Witt examine the skull of a monkey.
attempt to determine if and how marijuana affects a social setting as a mini society with a social hierarchy similar to that of humans. In the past studies have dealt mainly with how drugs affect learning tasks and work efficiency.
Their laboratories are located at Dorothea Dix Hospital, although Dr. Vandenbergh makes numerous trips to Puerto Rico, working closely with the monkey colony since it was first set up in 1962. Dr. Witt will concentrate on analyzing films of the monkeys and comparing movement using various film speeds.