When I ask my peers what they want to know about marijuana, they often reply, "How does it work? Why do people want to get into it? Why does it give that relaxing, dreamy state as if the world is perfect or that sense of exaltation and excitement?" The search for the exact answers are still going on but there have already been may explanations provided by scientists and experts. All of them are related to how marijuana acts inside our bodies.
Marijuana is a term that refers to the dried parts of the Cannabis sativa plant or any plant that belongs to the genus Cannabis for that matter. When ingested in the body in any way, its chemicals, around 400 of them, spread themselves inside our bodies, into our cells and up to our brain. Sixty among these 400 are considered as cannabinoids classified by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The most active is Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol or simply THC.
So what is so special with these cannabinoids? Well they are highly lipophilic and their clearance from the body is slow. All of them are non-polar compounds which makes them fat-soluble. Their long hydrocarbon tails even makes it easier for them to slip through the hydrocarbon-rich curtain that isolates the brain from the bloodstream. Also, they deposit in the lipid portion of cell membranes particularly of nerve cells'. Where they position themselves inside our bodies lead them to receptors where they attach to.
These receptors are called cannabinoid (CB) receptors with two subtypes: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the central nervous system with highest densities at the hippocampus, cerebellum, basal ganglia and spinal cord. They are also located at peripheral tissues, eyes and even male and female reproductive organs. CB2 receptors on the other hand are found mainly in the peripheral nervous system and immune tissues. The locations of these receptors in our bodies account for the effects brought about by the drug. For example, the...