Cannabis research is historically underfunded by the federal government. Luckily, some trailblazers like The Werc Shop, an analytical testing facility in Washington, perform independent research. Efforts like this across the nation are absolutely vital to pushing legalization forward. One of The Werc Shop’s employees, Oscar, has agreed to write an 8-part series for our blog to help everyone understand the scientific properties of cannabis.
Cannabis contains a group of molecules called “cannabinoids.” Cannabinoids can make up more that 30% of dried out marijuana buds by weight. The only cannabinoid known to get you high is THC, and it is the most common cannabinoid found in marijuana. Some of the main uses for THC include:
Euphoriant– Makes you feel good
Analgesic– Helps relieve pain
Anti-Inflammatory– Relieves inflammation
Antioxidant– Inhibits the oxidation of other molecules (which reduces the production of free radicals that can cause chain reactions in the body)
Antiemetic– Effective against vomiting and nausea
THC is found in raw cannabis as THC-Acid, a non-psychoactive molecule (that’s why you won’t get very high if you eat raw cannabis). THC-Acid is converted to psychoactive THC when it is smoked, vaporized, or heated for long periods of time.
It is important to note that THCA may also have therapeutic effects, even though it is not psychoactive.
CBD is another cannabinoid that has been used by many patients lately. It is also present in raw cannabis as its Acid form, CBD-Acid. CBD-Acid also undergoes decarboxylation, but in that case both of the molecules are non-psychoactive; they don’t get you high.
One interesting study done with CBD on 8 patients suffering with epileptic convulsions showed that 200-300mg of CBD per day kept 4 of the patients almost free of convulsions for up to 4 months and reduced convulsions for 3 others (one patient was unaffected). The study also showed that there were no signs of toxicity with CBD even in large doses of up to 700mg per day,
For anyone looking to make consistent marijuana products, you really want to get your starting material (oils, butters, etc.) tested before you start cooking to make sure you have the right amount of each cannabinoid, and to make sure enough of it has been converted from its acid form to get your desired dose.
More Cannabinoids Exist
The total amount of cannabinoids that are present in cannabis plants is currently unknown, but The Werc Shop is able to detect 8. Other than THC, THCA, CBD, and CBDA as discussed above, we also detect CBG, CBGA, CBN, and THCVA. Please see the graph below for a more detailed breakdown of each of these cannabinoids’ molecular structure.
There are still many more to be studied! Until recently, THC has dominated much of the medical research in marijuana, but growers are slowly starting to breed back higher levels of other cannabinoids like CBD, CBG and THCVA so that they can also be studied in more depth.