Marijuana is like movies. Sometimes you just want to sit down, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the ride. Other times, you experience a really cool effect and you just have to know how it was created. Spoiler Alert: this article is about the latter. No, we’re not going to show you how that epic space battle was created. Rather, we’re going to focus on how the cannabis that you know and love does what it does.
Yes, this article is about chemistry. And yes, there are going to be some pretty big words. But before you run away screaming with horrible flashbacks from high school, rest assured that it won’t be that bad. The big words will be abbreviated, you don’t have to memorize anything if you don’t want to, and there won’t be a test at the end. So without further ado, let’s delve into the wonderful world of cannabinoids.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Put simply, cannabinoids are chemicals. More specifically, cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (CB1 and CB2). There are three distinct classes of cannabinoids:
- Phytocannabinoids (found in plants)
- Endocannabinoids (found naturally in the body)
- Synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured in a lab)
Whether made by plants or by your own body (bet you didn’t know your body did that), cannabinoids are the things that make marijuana the wonder drug that it is. As we’ll see, these chemical compounds are the stuff that gets you high, relieves your pain, and takes the edge off your anxiety. We’ll focus on the phytocannabinoids here since that’s what you’re getting when you light a fat doobie.