Cannabis is a plant that has long been used for enjoyment and medical reasons. People used it freely until the government banned it in 1961. It added cannabis to Schedule 1 classifying it as a drug equal to cocaine and heroin. In recent years, many US state governments saw the medical benefits of cannabis. So they legalized it for medical use and, more recently, for recreational use. But it is still illegal on the federal level.
Cannabis the plant
There are two main varieties of cannabis plants—indica and sativa. Drying the leaves and flowers of the harvested plant, creates one of the most common natural drugs in the world. People call it by different names such as marijuana, weed, and pot. However, it is more often referred to as cannabis.
People have always enjoyed cannabis as a recreational drug to relax. And now it is more commonly prescribed to relieve the symptoms of medical conditions such as chronic pain.
Even though cannabis plant products are natural, it can still have strong negative and positive effects. Different ways of using it include:
- In edibles such as chocolate and gummies.
- As a topical treatment to relieve localized pain or eczema.
- Smoking or vaping it.
- As capsules which makes taking it discreet to take anywhere.
What is THC and CBD?
Cannabis has more than 400 compounds. These include cannabidiol, or CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. How potent these compounds are depends on how growers grow it and how manufacturers turn cannabis into products.
What is THC?
THC is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis and it has a similar structure to anandamide, a chemical found in the brain. Anandamide functions as neurotransmitters by sending messages between nerve cells in your nervous system. They affect the part of the brain linked to coordination, memory, perception of time, pleasure, and thinking. THC can attach itself to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to activate them as part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Using THC activates the brain’s reward system which releases higher levels of dopamine which causes the high for recreational users.
What is CBD?
CBD is another cannabis compound but it is not psychoactive. It works by imitating many of the compounds found in the ECS.
CBD works by attaching to the receptors in your brain, glands, connective tissue, organs, and immune system cells to ease the symptoms of an illness. The receptors are called endocannabinoids and are responsible for maintaining your body’s inner balance. There are three types of cannabinoids:
- synthetic – manmade in a laboratory
- herbal (phytocannabinoids) – produced naturally by plants
- endogenous (endocannabinoids) – occurs naturally in humans and animals.
Many diseases occur due to a lack of cannabinoids in the system. Our ECS regulates the body’s internal system to help all the body’s systems to work together harmoniously. A healthy person produces a steady supply of endocannabinoids to maintain the body’s internal system. If endocannabinoids do not reach receptors in some areas of the body, these cells can begin to malfunction. Put simply, the cannabinoids in medical cannabis replace the body’s lack of endocannabinoids in any part of the body where they are lacking to help rebalance it.
Potential long-term cannabis effects
The potential long-term cannabis effects are not fully understood. The research to date is largely conflicting with mostly animals studied. To understand the long-term effects, there needs to be a lot more in depth research of people.
Is cannabis addictive?
The short answer to whether cannabis is addictive or not is no. Most people can stop at any time. It becomes addictive when you cannot stop using cannabis although you know it has a negative effect on parts of your life.
Some people become cannabis dependent. And when they become dependent they can experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings and loss of appetite when they stop using it.
Cannabis and the risk of respiratory problems
When you regularly smoke cannabis the risk of respiratory problems is similar to smoking tobacco. This includes increased coughing. There is also an increased risk of developing lung infections and it can cause bronchitis. And so far studies show smoking cannabis does not increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
Short-term effects of cannabis
Cannabis can produce short-term cannabis effects that cause problems for some people and for others the effects are beneficial.
Short-term negative side effects include:
- trouble with coordination
- slow reaction times
- higher heart rate
You are more likely to experience these side effects in products high in THC rather than with CBD products.
The desirable short-term effects of THC include:
- more intense perception of your surroundings
- the ability to relax
- better focus
- more creative
- altered perception of time
- an increase in appetite.
How cannabis affects you in the short-term depends on how you use it. Smoking cannabis gives you an almost instant effect that can last up to a couple of hours. Where ingesting cannabis, such as edibles or in a capsule, can take a few hours to feel its effects. But once you do, these often last a lot longer than when you smoke it.
What it all means
Cannabis is a plant with good medical properties and is a natural way to enjoy a high recreationally. THC and CBD are naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant. It is the THC that produces the high and CBD is not psychoactive. Both THC and CBD activate different parts of your ECS and can have therapeutic effects depending on the products you use.
Check out our store for a range of products containing various levels of CBD and THC. Whether you want to enjoy cannabis recreationally or to treat a medical issue, we stock something that can meet your needs. And if you have problems choosing the right product, talk to one of our friendly, knowledgeable staff.