Truth about Endocannabinoids and Cannabis within the Body

What are Endocannabinoids anyways? 

While this word is long and confusing to say, what it is is pretty simple. endocannabinoids are naturally occurring, lipid-based neurotransmitters that are found in many areas of the body! There are two natural endocannabinoids found in the body, 2-AG and AEA. These neurotransmitters bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. There are two receptors that are included in the endocannabinoid system.

  1. CB1 Receptor: these are the most abundant G protein coupled receptors in the central nervous system. These receptors are highly enriched at presynaptic terminals.
  2. CB2 Receptor: these exhibit a more defined pattern of expressions in the brain that CB1 receptors, and is found mostly in the cells and tissues of the immune system. Most notably associated with inflammation and is localized to microglia.

Now that we know what the key players are, what exactly is the endocannabinoid system used for? The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has emerged as one of the key regulatory mechanisms in the brain that controls many events such as mood, pain, perception, learning, and memory. It may also provide a neuroprotective  role in brain injury as well as potentially playing a role in drug abuse and dependence.


Truth about Cannabis: 

Let’s talk drugs, such as cannabis (better known as marijuana, pot, weed, grass, dope). Cannabis is a psychoactive drug from the actual cannabis plant. There are two main components of the cannabis plant.

  1. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): makes up roughly 60% of the plant and is what makes you feel ‘high’
  2. Cannabidiol (CBD): makes up roughly 40% of the plant and typically does not have any negative effects and does not give you the ‘high’ that THC does.

THC has the ability to bind with both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body which allows for it to produce a wide variety of effects on the mind and body. While THC might be able to reduce pain and stimulate appetite, it can also lead to high anxiety and paranoia.

CBD on the other hand is not able to bind to CB1 and CB1 receptors in the body. Many scientists believe that CBD works by preventing the breakdown of the natural endocannabinoids in the body, which ultimately results in them have a longer effect on the body.

More THC and CBD Differences: 

One major difference between these two is that CBD is legal in all 50 states whereas THC is only legal (or decriminalized) in 22 states. There are also more forms of CBD than that of THC.

THC Stats: 

In the United States alone, more than 48.2 million people have used marijuana more than once since 2019. Marijuana is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States. Roughly 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder.

It can be seen that white people and people of color are using marijuana at the same rate, but people of color (specifically African Americans) are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rates of whites. This data trend can even be seen in the state we live in, Minnesota where there are significantly more arrests on African Americans than white people even though their usage is roughly the same.

This discrepancy cannot go unnoticed. While this is a result of systemic racism, there are things that people, like you and I, can do. Reaching out to state officials, signing petitions, and peacefully protesting can all play a role in narrowing this racial discrepancy that is involved with marijuana possession.

CBD Stats: 

While CBD is legal in 50 states there are still interesting statistics that can be talked about! Roughly 64% of Americans use it for pain, 49% of Americans use it for anxiety and stress, and 42% of Americans use it for sleep and insomnia. Statistically, more men use CBD than women. Finally, 50% of people prefer using oils, balms, and gummies to consume CBD.


What is the Point? 

It is important to know about the natural ECS system, but it is also important to understand the external factors that may also be activating the system. There are many outside factors that can activate the ECS, but I mainly focused on THC, which is the most common way to externally activate it. While THC is popular among younger generations, it is important to know all of the statistics and facts about it so they are using it properly because even though people say you cant get addicted to marijuana, you ABSOLUTELY can.




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