Marijuana is a popular drug; in fact, it is the most commonly used “illegal” drug in the world. While most people are aware that consuming marijuana has intoxicating effects, not many people know why. Everyone has heard of getting high, stoned, baked, etc. But what chemicals actually produce this feeling? When it comes to marijuana there is a common misunderstanding pertaining to what actually gets you high. With the progression of the times and marijuana becoming legal for medicinal purposes in about half of the United States and legal recreationally in a number of states such as Nevada, it is important to understand the scientific intricacies of cannabis.

How the Chemicals in Marijuana Affect Your Body

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both natural elements found in the cannabis plant, and although these elements are chemically similar, their impact on the consumer is much different. To to put it simply, THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. The reason for the dissimilarity relating to these elements’ interaction with the user’s body is due to cannabinoid 1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system. THC binds well with the cannabinoid 1 receptor, while CBD doesn’t stick as effectively. Because the THC molecule fits perfectly into cannabinoid receptor, the cannabinoid activates and directly stimulates the body, causing the intoxicating effect of marijuana. Whereas CBD actually blocks the high associated with THC and has a plethora of medicinal purposes.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC stimulates the brain and releases dopamine, which leads to feelings of euphoria. THC can cause sedation, psychomotor impairment, and alter thought processes. Due to the some of the unwanted side effects from THC such as anxiety, increased heart rate, and impaired motor skills, THC has gotten the label of being the bad cannabinoid. However, it has medical applications as well. THC is effective in treating side effects from chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma, just to name a few. While THC does have some medical benefits, the primary function of THC is producing characteristics that we classify as the “high,” CBD outperforms THC medically.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD reduces the effects of THC on the body. Namely, it reduces anxiety and serves as an antipsychotic. Further, CBD is used to treat inflammation, pain, epilepsy, infections, intestinal issues, and much more. Essentially, CBD is relaxation without the feeling of intoxication. However, due to the non-psychoactive effects of CBD, historically, marijuana growers were not focused on producing a plant with high levels of CBD. Recently, there has been a CBD movement in America as our understanding of the benefits of CBD constantly increase. The therapeutic value of CBD is almost unbelievable. For decades, outdated laws have banned a plant that produces what may become one of the most important medicines for modern disease.

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana

As marijuana steadily becomes more accepted legally and socially, more refined studies and research emerge. However, strict federal restrictions on marijuana restrict full exploration into the benefits of CBD. There is tremendous potential for medical marijuana to become a major source of relief for thousands of people suffering from numerous issues. Medical marijuana cultivators and dispensaries are required to disclose the composition of the marijuana that they grow and sell. With the increase in the accuracy from seed to sale, due to strict regulations, there could be a future where marijuana can solve more problems than ever imagined. However, until we overcome all legal and political obstacles, we may never know the full potential of utilizing marijuana as medicine.