Cannabis 101
What are the components of the cannabis plant?

The cannabis plant contains more than 500 natural compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The most well-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), although cannabis contains more than 140 different cannabinoids. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give the plant its unique taste and smell, while flavonoids are a group of natural substances that usually provide pigmentation.

What is THC?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a chemical compound in the cannabis plant, and the psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for the “high” feeling. THC has been shown to help reduce depression and anxiety, aid sleep, reduce inflammation, soothe nausea and vomiting, relieve pain, and improve metabolism. THC may negatively impact short-term memory, movement and coordination, and may provoke feelings of anxiety and paranoia.

What is cannabidiol (CBD)?

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a type of cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. CBD doesn’t cause the same intense “high” as THC. Research has found CBD to be helpful with anxiety and depression, pain relief, inflammation, nausea and vomiting, and reducing seizures in epileptic patients. Some patients experience mild negative mental side effects such as psychomotor slowing, lightheadedness, and sedation.

What’s the difference between “Sativa” and “Indica”?

Almost all of cannabis strains people ingest today stem from the original Cannabis Indica breed, while the Cannabis Sativa plant is used industrially for hemp as fiber, food, and for CBD. Many believe Sativas provide an energizing and stimulating high, while Indicas provide a relaxing and calming high. However, the only true difference between Sativa and Indica cannabis plants are the way they look and grow—Sativas grow long and tall while Indicas are short and bushy.

What is a “Cannabinoid”?

Cannabinoids are a type of naturally occurring chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. There are more than 140 known cannabinoids, but the most well-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

What is the “Entourage Effect”?

The entourage effect refers to the improved effectiveness of whole-plant cannabis preparations compared to CBD or THC alone. The combination of the various compounds in the plant produces effects greater than each one individually. As a result, full-spectrum cannabis products can be more therapeutic than their isolated counterparts. The existence of the entourage effect has been clinically established, but science has yet to figure out how exactly it functions.

What’s the difference between hemp and cannabis?

Cannabis contains THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid responsible for the “high” feeling obtained from using cannabis. Hemp, on the other hand, contains only trace amounts of THC—usually less than 0.3%, not nearly enough to cause intoxication.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are a type of hydrocarbon that can be found in many plants, including in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are responsible for the scents and flavors of different cannabis strains. There are at least 150 different kinds of terpenes present in any given cannabis phenotype.

What is the “Endocannabinoid System”?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of messengers and receptors involved in the regulation of a number of essential functions in the body, including pain, the immune system, sleep, and thermoregulation. The human body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, which are the ECS’s messengers. Some phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants are shown to mimic the effects some endocannabinoids.

What are the medical benefits of cannabis?

Cannabis has been shown to help with pain relief, anxiety, depression, nausea, and inflammation. Medically, THC has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, aid sleep, help inflammation, soothe nausea and vomiting, relieve pain, and improve metabolism. Research has found CBD to be helpful in reducing anxiety and depression, pain, inflammation, nausea and vomiting, and seizures in epileptic patients, among other benefits.

Is there research on the health benefits of cannabis?

We’ve only just scratched the surface in regards to scientific research. In 2010, only 174 medical cannabis articles had been published; through July 2019, there were 837 published articles on the subject. Every month there are new studies being released with various results, affecting how we view cannabis as a healing tool. You can find a collection of research here.

Which diseases qualify to be treated with medical cannabis?

The conditions that qualify to be treated with medical cannabis differs from state to state and country to country. It’s best to check your local laws and with your doctor to find out what specific diseases qualify in your specific region.

Which diseases can be treated with CBD?

Research has found CBD to be helpful in treating anxiety, depression, psychosis, addiction, chronic pain and inflammation, epilepsy, and nausea/vomiting.

Are there side effects when consuming cannabis?

It is possible that cannabis—particularly high-THC strains and products—may negatively impact short-term memory, affect movement and coordination, provoke feelings of anxiety and paranoia, increased appetite, cause feelings of drowsiness, and alter perceptions and sensations.

Can you overdose on cannabis?

While it is possible to consume too much cannabis and experience confusion, emotional distress, nausea, and increased heart rate and blood pressure, it is practically impossible to die of an overdose of cannabis. One US federal judge wrote in a ruling on the topic, that doing so would require smoking between 20,000 to 40,000 joints in the span of 15 minutes.

How can I consume cannabis?

Medical cannabis can be inhaled in the form of smoke or vapor, ingested in the form of edibles or capsules, applied topically in the form of salves, creams, eye drops, or patches, as well as via suppository.

What does “vaping” mean?

Vaping refers to the process of gradually heating cannabis flowers or oil extracts to a temperature that’s high enough to liberate cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant compounds, but low enough to avoid rapid combustion. Compared to smoking, vaporizing cannabis results in a gentler overall experience. Vaporizers can vary from small “pens” to larger table-top devices.

Are edibles safe?

Edibles kick in very slowly, causing some to ingest too much cannabis too quickly. For that reason, THC-rich edibles have been correlated with increased emergency room visits. The best safeguard is simply to check your edible’s nutrition label for cannabinoid content and make sure you don’t exceed your normal dose. Common wisdom says “start low and go slow”: start with a low dose, and wait at least an hour before consuming any more.

Will smoking medical cannabis harm my lungs?

While a direct link between smoking cannabis and lung cancer has not been found, heavy cannabis smokers may experience respiratory irritations including coughing, wheezing, and tightness of the chest. It is recommended to switch to other ingestion methods such as vaporization or edibles if these symptoms occur.

What are topicals?

Cannabis topicals come in the form of lotions, balms, oils, and transdermal patches. Topicals are applied directly to the skin to provide localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Cannabis topicals are non-intoxicating.

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