The primary psychoactive compound found within cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC. This cannabinoid is responsible for that lovely “high” feeling that marijuana smokers seek. Most recreational users reach for cannabis between 19-30% THC, with lower content requiring more consumption to achieve the desired effects. Cannabis with THC levels below .5% is considered hemp, which is primarily used for industrial and medical purposes.
Why THC Gets You High
When people smoke cannabis, THC goes into their lungs and is absorbed by the blood. Within 15-20 minutes, the human circulatory system is sending THC to every tissue in the body. THC moves fairly quickly from the lungs to the brain, altering neural chemistry and getting smokers stoned. More specifically, the THC molecules pass right through the blood-brain barrier and into endocannabinoid system receptors.
The endocannabinoid system controls the release of nearly every neurotransmitter, making it the brain’s most pervasive and important modulatory system. Neurotransmitters are molecules that neurons or brain cells use to communicate. THC attaches to the cannabinoid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain associated with memory, thinking, pleasure, and time perception. It is the relationship between THC and the human endocannabinoid system that delivers cannabis users both psychoactive and medicinal effects.
Stimulating the brain through these receptors, THC elicits the release of dopamine, leading to feelings of euphoria. A range of reported effects derive from THC, including sedation, pain relief, elation and more. Effects with negative reported side-effects such as anxiety are not uncommon, but can be mitigated and reduced by adjustments to terpenes in the cannabis being consumed.
The use of cannabis in the medical field dates back 3,000 years, but a recent resurgence puts the plant in the spotlight for its medicinal benefits. THC extracts enable its concentration, and are currently being used to to reduce and prevent nausea associated with cancer treatments and increase appetite in AIDS patients. The potential benefits of this amazing plant don’t stop there, tests in the areas of Glaucoma, insomnia, arthritis, headaches, and tremors are showing incredible results.
Consuming THC through edibles like weed brownies, gummies, and cookies alters the psychoactive effects. This is because the trip through the liver is longer, as enzymes turn THC into a new compound and delay the high. The psychoactive effects can become much more pronounced when eating high doses, so be careful and wait at least 90 minutes before decided to increase your dose. The standard serving size is 5mg, but some heavy users consume between 35-80mg.
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