Recreational cannabis use centers around one chemical: the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Consuming this chemical induces euphoric and stimulating sensations commonly referred to as a “high.” For most marijuana users, these sensations are pleasurable and enjoyable. For some, however, THC can induce feelings of anxiety and paranoia, especially in large doses.
Cannabis smoke contains thousands of organic and inorganic chemical compounds. This tar is chemically similar to that found in tobacco smoke, and over fifty known carcinogens have been identified in cannabis smoke, including; nitrosamines, reactive aldehydes, and polycylic hydrocarbons, including benz[a]pyrene. Cannabis smoke is also inhaled more deeply than is tobacco smoke. As of 2015, there is no consensus regarding whether cannabis smoking is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Light and moderate use of cannabis is not believed to increase risk of lung or upper airway cancer. Evidence for causing these cancers is mixed concerning heavy, long-term use. In general there are far lower risks of pulmonary complications for regular cannabis smokers when compared with those of tobacco. A 2015 review found an association between cannabis use and the development of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs), particularly non-seminoma TGCTs. A 2015 analysis of six studies found little evidence that long-term or regular cannabis smoking was associated with lung cancer risk, though it could not rule out whether an association with heavy smoking exists. Another 2015 meta-analysis found no association between lifetime cannabis use and risk of head or neck cancer. Combustion products are not present when using a vaporizer, consuming THC in pill form, or consuming cannabis foods.
Until very recently, the most convincing evidence that cannabis use precipitates schizophrenia came from a 15-year prospective study of cannabis use and schizophrenia in 50 465 Swedish conscripts (Andreasson et al., 1987). This study investigated the relationship between self-reported cannabis use at age 18 and the risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia in the Swedish psychiatric case register during the next 15 years. Andreasson and colleagues found a dose–response relationship between the risk of schizophrenia and the number of times cannabis had been used by age 18 (1.3 times higher for those who had used cannabis 1–10 times, 3 times higher for those who had used cannabis 1–50 times, and 6 times higher for those who had used cannabis more than 50 times). These risks were reduced after statistical adjustment for potentially confounding variables (a psychiatric diagnosis at age 18, and parental divorce), but the relationships remained statistically significant.
In 2019, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that CBD and other cannabinoids would be classified as "novel foods", meaning that CBD products would require authorization under the EU Novel Food Regulation stating: because "this product was not used as a food or food ingredient before 15 May 1997, before it may be placed on the market in the EU as a food or food ingredient, a safety assessment under the Novel Food Regulation is required." The recommendation – applying to CBD extracts, synthesized CBD, and all CBD products, including CBD oil – was scheduled for a final ruling by the European Commission in March 2019. If approved, manufacturers of CBD products would be required to conduct safety tests and prove safe consumption, indicating that CBD products would not be eligible for legal commerce until at least 2021.
There are hundreds of compounds in marijuana, but scientists believe the one responsible for the drugs' psychoactive effects is tetrahydrocannbinol, or THC. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, and marijuana's "high" comes from THC's binding to brain regions responsible for pleasure, time perception and pain, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“We have intellectual property that we’ve developed around how to manage hemp, and that we thought was prudent, because I think hemp is going to happen in the U.S. and when it does, I know that’s not the time to start,” said Canopy Chief Executive Bruce Linton in November’s earnings conference call. “You should have already been started up and ramped up, and get ready to revenue up. We think we are.”
A recent study published in The International Journal of Neurophamacologypoints to cannabidiol (CBD) as a cause of neurogenesis in the brain; specifically in the Hippocampus, an area typically associated with conscious memory and navigation. However, the researchers believe that CBD’s anxiety relief may be due to this neurogenesis in the brain. You can read our full article on the study here.
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Cannabis played a large role in the Greco-Roman cultures as a source of both fiber, an intoxicant, and a medicine. Cannabis seeds were discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, and Greek rhetorician Athenaeus made note of hemp being used to make rope between 170 and 230 CE. Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder also made reference to a cannabis root decoction as a treatment for joint stiffness and gout in the first (1st) century BCE.
^ Blest-Hopley G, Giampietro V, Bhattacharyya S (May 2018). "Residual effects of cannabis use in adolescent and adult brains - A meta-analysis of fMRI studies". Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 88: 26–41. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.03.008. PMID 29535069. This may reflect the multitude of cognitive tasks employed by the various studies included in these meta-analyses, all of which involved performing a task thereby requiring the participant to reorient their attention and attempt to solve the problem at hand and suggest that greater engagement of this region indicates less efficient cognitive performance in cannabis users in general, irrespective of their age.
Marihuana has some interesting effects on some people in that it appears that smoking and enjoying the drug involves a learning process. This consists of learning just how long to keep the smoke in the lungs before exhaling and learning how to recognize and cultivate the mild hallucinogenic effects. These behavioral characteristics may lead to a type of “reverse tolerance” whereby the effects seem to be stronger as one gets more experienced in smoking. Some of this reverse tolerance may be due to a very long half-life for THC, which has been found in some tissues for months after the last ingestion. Marihuana also seems to have an appetite stimulating effect on many people, especially inexperienced users who report that they get the “munchies” and want to eat great quantities of food after smoking marihuana.
In a small study published in the journal JCI Insight in 2017, researchers observed that CBD may help prevent stress-related changes in blood pressure. For the study, nine healthy male volunteers took a single dose of either CBD or placebo. Compared to those given the placebo, those treated with CBD had lower blood pressure both before and after experiencing a stressful event.