We’ll be the first to admit it, the marijuana world can become complicated very quickly. There are a lot of ABCs of the Cannabis World to learn.
This, in part, is due to all the abbreviations for cannabinoids, and that research into the plant is still in its infancy.
And it’s not just plant that we’re dragging along in this lesson. All humans (and most animals actually) have an endocannabinoid system in their body.
But before we dive headfirst into this new complex internal system, let’s start at the beginning. Or the Genesis of the weed ABCs – with cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids are chemicals that are present in plants like cannabis and hemp plants.
Cannabis and hemp are a part of the larger Cannabaceae – which is defined as a small family of flowering plants. Also, they often have distinct male and female plants.
But it’s these chemicals that get the abbreviation treatment, as there are at least 113 different types of cannabinoids known and isolated at the moment.
We’ll get into some of them later, but now let’s talk about the endocannabinoid system!
Endocannabininoid System (ECS)
Right, prepare yourself as we get a little more “science-y” than usual.
But this is interesting stuff guys! Trust us… we’re like… South Africa’s best cannabis destination…
Anyway, the ECS is a biological system that, in very basic terms, trades cannabinoids to flip internal switches in your body.
By “flip” we mean it activates certain bodily functions. While the researchers are still sorting out what exactly the ECS does, it is said that it’s responsible for:
- Physiological and cognitive processes;
- Possibly activating fertility, pregnancy, pre-and-postnatal development;
- Various activities in the immune system;
- Pain sensation;
- And memory.
The system has cannabinoid receptors (CBRs), which absorb and express hormones in the body.
So, surprise, there’s actually a little bit of cannabinoids in everyone! Tell that to your conservative uncle, he makes cannabis every day! But wait!
There’s still more about the ECS!
Currently, scientists have identified two primary cannabinoid receptors.
CB1 (which was only cloned for the first time in 1990).
CB2 (which was only cloned in 1993).
CB1 is mostly found in the brain, nervous system, and sensory organs like the eyes. THC and CBD affect this receptor as an outside component.
Now let’s get to the THCs and CBDs!
Right, out of all the cannabinoids this is the best known one. That’s because it’s the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.
How they get to work is by attaching themselves to your CB1 receptors and throwing a party of sorts.
But if you read THC content on seed bank websites, it’s a measure of how high you’ll potentially get – if you decarboxylate your plant… say what?
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
You may be surprised to hear this, but it’s unlikely you’ll get high eating a raw plant. There’s a reason why you stick your bud in a rad dry-herb vape!
Decarboxylation is the process of turning one compound into another, in this case, THCA into THC. Normally this is done through introducing heat or drying out the herb.
Yep, this is the stuff they stick into great dog drops! But why? Simple, it is non-psychotropic, or won’t make you high.
It is currently being studied but so far it has revealed many interesting qualities.
And if you were wondering, there is a cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). So, please don’t munch on your organic crop.
While this may seem like the name for the missing SABC channel, it is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid. Which is found in trace amounts in cannabis.
It does all the THC things, but less extreme.
Yeah, there’s more THCs! This one is actually more prevalent in certain Asian strains of cannabis.
But, while you may assume this a psychoactive cannabinoid, it isn’t! It disrupts THC’s work at the CB1 receptors and therefore lessens its effect.
And that’s the first ABC lesson of the Cannabis World over!
Yep, cannabis is far more complex than we give it credit for.
With the possibilities for each of these compounds being useful for a distinct job when isolated.
We could write about it all day! And we do pick it up again in part two.
Leave us a comment about ABCs of the Cannabis World you need explained.
Words by: Andrew Macfarlane, writer, gardener, and endocannabinoid fan.
z00tly says: “Well when you know that THCs and CBDs matter because you decided to burn the THCAs and CBDAs.
Smoking weed is a story of the phoenix rising from the ashes so you can live an easier life… Who knew the ABCs of the Cannabis World would be a tale for the ages!”