While there are many compounds found within the cannabis plant, the two that are typically discussed are CBD and THC.
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the part of the marijuana plant that creates psychoactive effects. Simply put, it’s the compound that may make you feel euphoric.
Cannabis users are able to experience psychoactive effects from THC because our brain contains receptors to which THC binds.
But, wait…Why do humans have receptors for a chemical in a plant?
To answer that question, we have to look at what these receptors are and how they work:
CB1 and CB2 Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System
The receptors in your brain that THC binds to are called cannabinoid receptors and there are two of them: the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor. They are actually called “cannabinoid” receptors because the chemical THC binds to them.
In reality, they could have been called anything but scientists decided to name them after the chemical that they used to activate them.
So does that mean we were naturally born to smoke weed?
No, not exactly. Our body has an “endocannabinoid” system which was, again, named after THC. This system uses neurotransmitters that have a similar chemical structure to THC.
One of these neurotransmitters is known as “anandamide” and it’s the one that activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your brain.
What all of this science means is that we do have chemicals in our brain similar in structure to THC but that doesn’t mean we are meant to put more of that chemical into our system.
Because THC can interact with the endocannabinoid system, it can create disruptions in how your neurons function, particularly the endogenous cannabinoids.
These disruptions are what cause the psychoactive symptoms of smoking weed such as increased appetite, forgetfulness, altered motor function, etc.
Why Does the Cannabis Plant Produce THC?
So while we have a brain that reacts to cannabis products, why does the plant even produce THC to begin with?
There’s no definite answer on why the cannabis plant produces this psychoactive compound but the scientific community does have some ideas:
- THC is an effective UV blocker and protects the leaves from UV exposure and DNA damage.
- THC functions like an antibiotic and protects the plant from disease.
- THC’s psychoactive components are used to intoxicate animals and insects that may eat the plant and deter them from further consumption.
So while there’s no solid answer as to why the cannabis plant produces THC, the bottom line is that it is not naturally intended for human use.
The Use of THC
Now that you understand how THC affects the human body on a chemical level (and the difference between CBD), it’s important to know why this compound is used.
THC can be used recreationally or to treat the symptoms of medical conditions as prescribed by a physician.
Taking THC is not the same as smoking a pre-roll. The regular cannabis found in a pre-roll contains both CBD and THC. Together, they create what is called an “entourage effect” where the psychoactive effects are heightened because of the presence of both compounds.
CBD also provides a balance to the psychological and physiological effects of THC but can be isolated away from the cannabis plant, leaving you with a higher concentration of THC.
With that in mind, if you are a new user of THC it’s best if you keep your initial dose small until you understand how THC is going to affect you.
Once you familiarize yourself, you can increase your dosage after 24 hours. THC overdosing, or “greening out“, happens when you take too much and feel dizzy, nauseous, and even paranoid.
We’re Glad Weed Has THC!
The use of THC has certainly evolved within the cannabis industry and new strains and marijuana products are constantly created.
If you are curious to know more about THC and what cannabis products are best for you, please get in touch with your physician for more information.