Cannabinoids 101: What are Cannabinoids?
December 27, 2021
Many of the visitors at our dispensary have questions about the pros and cons of medical cannabis. There are many benefits to medical cannabis, but to get the most benefits, it is important to have a good understanding of the main compounds in cannabis and how medical marijuana works with our bodies.
The topic of cannabinoids provides a good starting point in education about the pros and cons of medical cannabis. That’s because using the right cannabinoid in the right amount for your body can be critical to ensuring positive outcomes when using cannabis for medical purposes. Here’s what you need to know about cannabinoids.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are one of many naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. They are primarily responsible for producing the therapeutic and intoxicating effects of cannabis.
For example, the cannabinoid THC produces the euphoric and mind-altering effects of cannabis, while the cannabinoid CBD produces soothing and therapeutic effects.
Cannabinoids are most abundant in cannabis, but can also be found in certain foods as well including broccoli and carrots. However, as you probably already know, there aren’t enough cannabinoids in these types of foods to actually produce any of the effects typically associated with cannabis.
Cannabinoids in Cannabis and Cannabis Products
Knowing the cannabinoid content of a specific batch of cannabis buds or a specific product is key to understanding what to expect from it. Many cannabis products, including flower buds, will clearly display the dominant cannabinoids they contain on their label or package. Make sure to check our product labels or to ask your budtender for more information about the cannabinoid content of a specific cannabis product.
Endocannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System
How do cannabinoids work? When ingested, cannabinoids produce their effects by directly and indirectly interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The endocannabinoid system is a physiological network of cell receptors and neurotransmitters that exists in the bodies of all mammals. In the human body, the ECS works to keep the body in balance (homeostasis) by modulating a number of critical functions including stress, sleep, appetite, pain, and more.
The ECS is made up of many protein cell receptors spread throughout the body and brain, with CB1 and CB2 type receptors being the most common. What are cannabinoid receptors? They are a class of cell membrane receptors that are part of the G protein-coupled receptor superfamily.
However, these cell receptors can’t do all the work by themselves. In order for the ECS to work, these cell receptors need to interact with endocannabinoids. What are cannabinoid receptors without endocannabinoids? Not much. In order for these receptors to do anything, they need to be stimulated by endocannabinoids in one way or another.
Endocannabinoids are lipid-based neurotransmitters produced naturally by the body. The two best-known endocannabinoids are 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide (AEA). Without these two endocannabinoids, the ECS simply wouldn’t work. Once they have finished their job, endocannabinoids are then broken down by enzymes in the ECS and recycled.
Cannabinoids (sometimes called phytocannabinoids) work in a similar manner as endocannabinoids by interacting with our ECS receptors—sometimes by binding directly to them. In fact, the molecular shape of THC is quite similar to that of anandamide, which is potentially why it is able to bind to receptors in the ECS to produce its intoxicating effects.
How Long Does Cannabis Stay in Your System?
It’s impossible to have a discussion about the pros and cons of medical cannabis without talking about drug testing. Many companies still drug test their employees, and depending on the cannabis products you use, it may not be possible to pass a drug test.
When trying to determine ‘How long does cannabis stay in your system?’ only one cannabinoid that matters: THC. Almost all drug tests work by looking for THC metabolites in your system. Once THC is ingested, it is broken down by your body into metabolites which can remain in your system for quite some time.
How long does cannabis stay in your system? That can actually depend on several factors.
The most important factors when considering how long cannabis stays in your system are how much cannabis you ingest and how strong it is. If you are a heavy user of high-THC products, then you can expect cannabis to remain in your system for longer than it would for an occasional user.
Another important factor when trying to estimate just how long cannabis will stay in your system is your body weight. THC metabolites tend to hide away in the body’s fat cells. It’s believed that someone with fewer fat cells will rid their body of THC more quickly.
In theory, if you’re consuming a cannabis product that contains only CBD and no THC whatsoever, you shouldn’t have to worry about passing a drug test. You also won’t feel psychoactive effects, if that’s your preference.
Here are a few cannabinoids worth knowing.
THC: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis. It often binds with cannabinoid receptors in our bodies and produces an uplifting euphoria alongside other mind-altering and intoxicating effects. THC has also been found to have multiple potential therapeutic benefits.
THCA: THCA (tetrahydrocannbinolic acid) is the precursor cannabinoid to THC. THC is converted from THCA, so without THCA there would be no THC. THCA may have anti-inflammatory properties and neuroprotective properties.
CBD: CBD (cannabidol) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid known for its many potential therapeutic benefits and the sense of calmness that it produces. CBD may help with anxiety, epilepsy, and pain relief, among other things.
CBG: CBG (cannabigerol) is a lesser-known cannabinoid that appears in trace amounts in most cannabis strains. CBG may have potential in treating certain kinds of inflammation, as an antibacterial agent, and in the prevention of certain kinds of muscle contractions.
CBN: CBN (cannabinol) is a minor cannabinoid that, like CBG, appears in trace amounts in cannabis strains. CBG is produced by the breakdown of THC as it ages. CBN may have antibacterial properties and neuroprotective properties.
Medical Cannabis at 3Fifteen Primo
We know how overwhelming the complex world of cannabis can seem to someone new to medical cannabis, and we know that working out the pros and cons of medical cannabis by yourself isn’t always easy. That’s why our friendly and knowledgeable staff is always on hand to help answer any of your questions and to guide you in the right direction.
Looking for someone to further discuss the pros and cons of medical cannabis with? Come down to our dispensary today or get in touch with us and we’ll be glad to share our expertise with you to elevate your experience however we can.