For many seriously ill people, medical marijuana is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering, or treats symptoms of their medical condition, without debilitating side effects. Marijuana’s medicinal benefits are incontrovertible, now proven by decades of peer-reviewed, controlled studies published in highly respected medical journals.
Marijuana has been shown to alleviate symptoms of wide range of debilitating medical conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, and glaucoma, and is often an effective alternative to narcotic painkillers. Read more about marijana's medical benefits
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis saliva plant. Of over 480 different compounds present in the plant, only around 66 are termed cannabinoids.
The most well known among these compounds is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another important component, which makes up about 40% of the plant resin extract.
Classes of cannabinoids
The cannabinoids are separated into the following subclasses:
- Cannabigerols (CBG)
- Cannabichromenes (CBC)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Other cannabinoids including cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE) and cannabitriol (CBT)
Effects of cannabinoids
Cannabinoids exert their effects by interacting with specific cannabinoid receptors present on the surface of cells.
These receptors are found in different parts of the central nervous system and the two main types of cannabinoid receptors in the body are CB1 and CB2.
In 1992, a naturally occurring substance in the brain that binds to CB1 was discovered, called anandamide. This cannabinoid-like chemical and others that were later discovered are referred to as endocannabinoids.
The effects of cannabinoids depends on the brain area involved. Effects on the limbic system may alter the memory, cognition and psychomotor performance; effects on the mesolimbic pathway may affect the reward and pleasure responses and pain perception may also be altered.
Differences between cannabinoids
The main way in which the cannabinoids are differentiated is based on their degree of psychoactivity.
For example, CBG, CBC and CBD are not known to be psycholgically active agents whereas THC, CBN and CBDL along with some other cannabinoids are known to have varying degrees of psychoactivity.
The most abundant of the cannabinoids is CBD, which is thought to have anti-anxiety effects, possibly counteracting the psychoactive effects of THC.
When THC is exposed to the air, it becomes oxidized and forms CBN which also interacts with THC to lessen its impact.
This is why cannabis that has been left out unused will have less potent effects when smoked, due to the increased CBN to THC ratio.
Trichomes, those little tiny crystal-like hairs that cover the buds, hold all the good stuff. The different methods of hashmaking focus on isolating these sticky little parts of the cannabis plant because they house the majority of its resin. Every part of the cannabis plant has at least a little THC in it. Leaves have around 4%, while buds have up to 25% or 30% of dry weight. The trichomes cover all parts of the buds, from the interior stems to the surrounding leaves. Scientists used to think that THC and other cannabinoids were made in the green plant tissue and transported out to the trichomes during flowering, but after intensive research, they realized that the trichomes themselves make the cannabinoids and terpenes.
Trichomes might grow off a leaf around the flower of a female plant, or a bract (pictured above). A bract houses the seeds in a fertilized plant, and has a high density of trichomes. Looking closely, you’ll see six different types of these glands are all oozing resin during flowering, but the biggest ones with the most juice are the capitate stalked trichomes. At about 50 to 100 micrometers wide, trichomes are very small.