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The Chemistry of Cannabis: The Science That Convinced Sanjay Gupta

Unbeknownst to many, including Dr. Sanjay Gupta for many years, the chemistry of cannabis has studied and chronicled for decades. An article posted to Salon.com has done an excellent job of describing the science behind the components of cannabis, called cannabinoids, and the existence of the “human cannabinoid system” (emphasis ours):

  • Marijuana makes chemical contact with human bodies through cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds in marijuana (cannabis). The human body also creates cannabinoids. The body creates cannabinoids on-demand, such as when they are produced to serve as neuroprotectants when the brain’s nerve cells begin to fire too much, as in the case of stress, seizures or an impact to the brain. Our bodies also have cannabinoid receptors. Together, the cannabinoids and their receptors make up the human cannabinoid system.

    Just as there was a time when we didn’t know we had immune systems or hormonal systems, until 1988 we didn’t know that we had cannabinoid systems.

The article goes on to describe how CBD and THC work in the body (emphasis ours):

  • One of the cannabinoids in cannabis – THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinal) — creates a euphoric effect. The other 65 cannabinoids in cannabis do not. CBD (cannabidiol) is another cannabinoid in cannabis. In Gupta’s report, Charlotte Figi, the 6-year-old whose seizures were dramatically reduced by using marijuana, was using a strain of the plant high in CBD. Despite marijuana’s classification as a schedule 1 drug, meaning no medicinal applications, in 2003, the U.S. federal government patented CBD for medical use. CBD has medicinal applications in conjunction with THC, but also independently of it.

    […]

    The big risk with many drugs and pharmaceuticals is respiratory and/or cardiovascular failure. Not so with cannabis. Numerous sources cite the lethal dose of marijuana at 40,000 times greater than the dose it takes to create the euphoric effects. It may be that there are no fatalities from marijuana use because there are no cannabinoid receptors in the medulla oblongata, the part of the brain stem responsible for respiratory and cardiovascular function.

Read the entire article on of the science of cannabis at Salon.com.