Properties of the Compounds in Marijuana
At least 66 cannabinoids have been isolated from the cannabis plant. All classes derive from cannabigerol-type compounds and differ mainly in the way this precursor is cyclized. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) are the most prevalent natural cannabinoids and have received the most study.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive component of the plant. It appears to ease moderate pain (analgetic) and to be neuroprotective. THC has approximately equal affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Its effects are perceived to be more cerebral. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC, THC) and delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), mimic the action of anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body. The THCs produce the high associated with cannabis by binding to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive, and was thought not to affect the psychoactivity of THC. However, recent evidence shows that smokers of cannabis with a higher CBD/THC ratio were less likely to experience schizophrenia-like symptoms (disorganization of thought). This is supported by psychological tests, in which participants experience less intense psychotic effects when intravenous THC when co-administered with CBD. It has been hypothesized that CBD acts as an antagonist at the CB1 receptor and thus alters the psychoactive effects of THC. It appears to relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and nausea. CBD has a greater affinity for the CB2 receptor than for the CB1 receptor. CBD shares a precursor with THC and is the main cannabinoid in low-THC Cannabis strains. Two NIH scientists secured a patent on CBD in 2003 when they realized that it is the main cannabinoid which producse an analgesic (pain relieving) effect. Most strains of marijuana in the U.S. have had most of the CBD bred out of them in favor of the psychoactive component (THC). This necessitates getting high to deal with pain and leads most users to favor dosing at bedtime and sleeping through the psychoactive aspects and thus also taking advantage of the soporific (sleep inducing) effects of THC. It appears that the pain relieving aspects mediated by CBD endure longer than the psychoactive effects of THC and thus are still active the next day after bedtime dosing.
Cannabinol (CBN) is the primary product of THC degradation, and there is usually little of it in a fresh plant. CBN content increases as THC degrades in storage, and with exposure to light and air. It is only mildly psychoactive. Its affinity to the CB2 receptor is higher than for the CB1 receptor.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is non-psychotomimetic but still affects the overall effects of Cannabis. It acts as an α2-adrenergic receptor agonist, 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, and CB1 receptor antagonist. It also binds to the CB2 receptor.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is prevalent in certain South African and Southeast Asian strains of Cannabis. It is an antagonist of THC at CB1 receptors and attenuates the psychoactive effects of THC.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is non-psychoactive and does not affect the psychoactivity of THC.
Please see: “Obtaining Medical Marijuana Certification in Santa Rosa, CA.” for an in-depth look at Marijuana, its history, its uses as a medicine and obtaining medical certification in Santa Rosa.