Cannabis 101: Cannabinoid Basics

The cannabinoids within a cannabis strain are some of the most important features of what you are consuming. 

The two most abundant cannabinoids found in cannabis are THC (Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabinol), and both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system in different ways. 

THC is psychoactive and responsible for producing the “high” that comes with cannabis consumption, while CBD is non-psychoactive and does not produce any high whatsoever. Cannabinoids are able to produce medicinal and psychoactive effects within the body because of our inner endocannabinoid system.

The Regulator of Your Body

The endocannabinoid system regulates how cannabis and your body interact together. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system is fairly new; it wasn’t discovered until the 90s by a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health. As such, the endocannabinoid system still isn’t fully understood, but we do know that its responsible for regulating various regulatory systems in our brains, endocrine systems, and immune tissues – essentially helping to keep our bodies in equilibrium. 

Two major endocannabinoid receptors have been identified and studied: CB1 receptors, and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the body’s central nervous system – namely the brain, spine, and the complex network of nerves throughout the body. CB1 receptors in the brain interact with THC and help the body feel the psychoactive effects of cannabis. CB2 receptors are usually found outside of the nervous system, such as in the immune system and organs.

Effects of Cannabinoids

THC and CBD both have very different effects on your body. CBD doesn’t cause any euphoria like THC, so some people looking to use cannabis strictly medicinally may prefer it. CBD can be used to help with conditions such as seizures, inflammation, psychosis and other mental disorders, IBS, and migraines. THC can be used to help with different conditions such as muscle spasticity, glaucoma, insomnia, and low appetite. Both CBD and THC have been found to alleviate symptoms of pain, nausea, and anxiety.

CBD has no short-term side effects, and research has found no long-term side effects from CBD consumption either. Thus, it is very well tolerated by many people, even in larger doses. THC can cause some short-term side effects due to its psychoactive properties, such as an increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, and slower reaction times. Some studies show long-term negative psychiatric effects from repeat THC consumption, and use may increase risk for some mental health disorders, but further research is needed.

Consuming CBD

If you’re a recreational consumer, but still wish to reap the benefits of CBD, research what specific strains may have a good ratio of THC:CBD to achieve the result you’re looking for. Many stores will have 4:1, 2:1, or even 1:1 strains that may produce a better high and better results for you personally. For some, CBD can help decrease the negative short-term side effects of THC, namely decreased anxiety and decreased short-term memory impairment. This is because CBD diminishes THC’s ability to activate CB1 receptors in your brain, helping lower paranoia and anxiety levels. CBD then also can directly influence other receptor systems in the brain with anti-anxiety effects; it can activate specific serotonin receptors in the brain, which are a common target of prescription anti-anxiety medication.

Deciding what mixture of CBD and THC you should consume may be difficult, especially if you’re planning to use medically. Budtenders cannot legally give out medical advice or claim cannabis has certain health benefits, so they may not be the best source of information when it comes to this particular cannabis conundrum. 

Always Ask Questions and Get Advice

Speak with your doctor about CBD if you wish to consume medically, and they can help recommend what dosage and what ratio of THC to CBD will be right for you. With cannabis becoming legal in Canada come October 17, your doctor should be informed about the effects and benefits of both THC and CBD, as well as welcoming and accepting of you wanting to use medically.