Now more than ever, the science of marijuana needs a blog post. With so many states legalizing marijuana, we ought to know the answers to questions like, ‘how does marijuana affect your brain?’ And, ‘how does the endocannabinoid system work?
Heck, what is the endocannabinoid system? (ECS)
We better back it up and start at the beginning! Marijuana 101.
Cannabis sativa, a plant known more commonly as marijuana, is popular due to its induced psychological & euphoric states when ingested or smoked.
Many states are joining the party & taking steps towards cannabis legalization, but federal law still prohibits its sale and consumption. Why?
What is the deal with marijuana?
AN EVER SO BRIEF & CHERRY-PICKED HISTORY OF MARIJUANA 101
MORE HISTORY : WHY THE U.S. MADE MARIJUANA ILLEGAL IN THE FIRST PLACE
That slide show was embarrassing to assemble & I had nothing to do with it!
THE SCIENCE OF MARIJUANA
As I weeded through the plethora of scientific literature about the physiological & therapeutic effects of cannabis & cannabinoids, & deconstructed how the endocannabinoid system works, one fact stood out. (And yes, I am going to overuse puns)
I should be writing a book about cannabis, not a blog post.
A PubMed search for scientific journal articles published in the last 20 years containing the word “cannabis” revealed 22,771 results.
Use the word “cannabinoid,” and the results increase to 26,570 articles.
I ate chocolate & researched & gardened while I stalled to write this post. (hence the flowers above & my precipitous drop in website visitors)
Okay, I’ll stop whining & get to the science of marijuana & how the endocannabinoid system works.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has attracted more scientific attention due to its involvement in many different functional processes in the brain, including the regulation of emotions, motivation, & cognition.
HOW DOES THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM WORK?
The endocannabinoid system is not only present inside human bodies but, in all vertebrates, including mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and birds.
This does not include our favorite pollinators, bees.
For the endocannabinoid system to function, it needs three components:
Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) & Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2).
Not going here today.
Even though the chart is not all that impressive, cannabinoid receptors are spread throughout the body – attached to cellular membranes – and are possibly more numerous than any other connective system.
Did I just say ‘PLANTS?’
What a perfect segue to the science of marijuana! Cannabis sativa is a plant!
MARIJUANA VERSUS CANNABIS
People–myself included interchange, ‘marijuana’ and ‘cannabis.’
For the record, cannabis is the botanical name for a genus of flowering plants.
Marijuana refers to cannabis strains, or their dried leaves, or flowers, which contain THC.
Back to the science of marijuana.
THE SCIENCE OF MARIJUANA
HOW DOES MARIJUANA AFFECT YOUR BRAIN?
A BRIEF WORD ON CBD
We’ve established that marijuana refers to the parts of the plant cannabis sativa that contain substantial amounts of THC.
The cannabis plant contains about 540 chemical substances!
Over 100 cannabinoids have been identified including THC & CBD. CBD or cannabidiol is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis.
As in more than someone may want
Cannabinoids are considered to have fewer & milder side effects than many pharmaceutical drugs they may be able to replace.
Don’t make the mistake, though, of thinking that “natural” products are side-effect free.
Currently, the FDA does not guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of OTC CBD products. If you’re interested, here’s a 2022 article from Healthline that talks about several over-the-counter CBD oils w/ a brief tutorial on reading labels.
UNFORTUNATELY, MEMORY LOSS & CANNABIS USE IS A FACT
At least adult brains recover the cognitive impairments after a period of abstinence.
However, adolescent brains sustain permanent damage! That is a sobering side effect of THC & a bad answer to the question, ‘how does marijuana affect your brain?’
And we’re tiptoeing around the efficacy of CBD products & medical marijuana now.
If that’s the case, why are so many states legalizing marijuana?
Don’t walk away, let’s have a look.
WHY ARE SO MANY STATES LEGALIZING MARIJUANA?
As of May 2022, my state, Wisconsin is a holdout. Nothing is legal here.
Color me cynical but one reason states are jumping on the cannabis train could be tax revenue.
Federal law still prohibits the sale & consumption of marijuana.
Why is marijuana illegal under federal law?
WHY IS MARIJUANA ILLEGAL UNDER FEDERAL LAW?
My slide show went off on a tangent. Essentially, for marijuana to be removed from its Schedule I Classification:
Do opinions matter?
What is your opinion about legalizing marijuana? Have you used cannabinoids aka CBD to help w/what ails you? Noticed any side effects?
Learn anything new from my post?