In case you think cannabis use as a therapy is like any other drug, think again. Pharmaceutical drugs do not have ready-made receptors on every cell in the body. Cannabis does nave such receptors. Think of it like a lock and key. Cannabis is the key and cannabinoid receptors are the locks. When the key matches the lock, mechanisms in the cells are activated which account for the therapeutic effects.
If the pharmaceutical industry could get their hands on a drug they could patent with all the effects of cannabis – from pain control, appetite stimulation, to effective treatment of insomnia and everything in between – they would pay millions and make billions. Too bad for them, herbal compounds are not patentable.
Here is the technical data on cannabinoid receptors straight out of Wikipedia in case you are of a medical science kind of mind:
“The cannabinoid receptors are a class of cell membrane receptors under the G-protein coupled receptor superfamily. Cannabinoid receptors are activated by ligands, which are lipid compounds known collectively as cannabinoids. Further distinction of these ligands separates endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), which are generated naturally inside the body, from exogenous cannabinoids, which are introduced into the body as cannabis or a related synthetic compound.
“There are currently two known subtypes, termed CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain (central nervous system, CNS), but also in the lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB2 receptor is mainly expressed in the immune system and in hematopoietic cells. Mounting evidence suggests that there are novel cannabinoid receptors that is, non-CB1 and non-CB2, which are expressed in endothelial cells and in the CNS. In 2007, the binding of several cannabinoids to a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) in the brain was described.
“The protein sequences of CB1 and CB2 receptors are about 44% similar. In addition, minor variations in each receptor have been identified. Cannabinoids bind reversibly and stereo-selectively to the cannabinoid receptors. The affinity of an individual cannabinoid to each receptor determines the effect of that cannabinoid. Cannabinoids that bind more selectively to certain receptors are more desirable for medical usage.