Cannabis prohibition began in 1937 and has led to almost 100 years of missed research and funding. Now in 2015, as american culture begins to accept marijuana into the mainstream and legitimize it, some of the brightest minds have come together to ask important questions. What’s going on inside this plant? How does marijuana really affect our bodies and our brains? How can one plant have so many different effects and uses?
Consider what it means to answer these questions and teach the many different consumer profiles, ranging from young professionals to retired grandparents, about the varying effects of cannabis. People must be educated in order to avoid negative experiences and/or being taken advantage of. Informed consumers will be able to enhance their cannabis experience and tailor it to their medicinal or recreational needs.
Marijuana’s effects on the brain are much more complex and varied than previously thought. In fact, new studies are showing that consuming cannabis is a unique experience for each individual. So when you hear stories about people who become paranoid or anxious after consuming a small amount of cannabis, it isn’t always their fault.
3 Reasons Why Cannabis Affects Everyone Differently
Scientific studies show that genetic makeup impacts how cannabis affects consumers in different ways. Researchers analyzed the two genes that affect personal traits and psychiatric disorders the most: COMT val158met and 5-HTTLPR.
Cannabis influences a range of behaviors including: attention, performance, depression, and decision making. What is interesting, is that depending on your genes consuming cannabis could work to your advantage or disadvantage. Some cannabis consumers can experience a significant increase in focus and attention, while others will find it extremely hard to focus after consumption. Some may experience relief from depression, while others may aggravate their symptoms with the use of cannabis.
This doesn’t mean that marijuana shouldn’t be used to treat depression or PTSD , but it confirms that each individual who consumes, or is thinking about consuming cannabis, should learn more about how the plant will uniquely work to their benefit or disadvantage.
2. Indica vs. Sativa
We still know very little about how different strains of the same plant have different, and often inconsistent, effects. Most cannabis consumers at least know about the two different species of cannabis plants (indica vs. sativa) and the different feelings they induce. Indica is associated with a body-buzz, drowsiness and relaxation. Sativa is known for it’s cerebral, energetic, and euphoric effects.
It isn’t as simple as Indica vs. Sativa though. Marijuana classification gets complex because both strains can sometimes mimic one another’s effects; leading scientists, doctors and growers to learn more about how cannabinoids and terpenoids interact with one another in cannabis strains when consumed by humans.
3. Cannabinoids and Terpenoids
Most cannabis consumers have heard of cannabinoids. There are over 85 known cannabinoids that make up the cannabis plant. The most well-known being THC, the cannabinoid that gives you the high or euphoric feeling.
CBD (or cannabidiol) is starting to get on people’s radar as well. CBD is non-psychoactive and scientific research is finding a variety of powerful medicinal benefits associated with it as well. CBD is changing the medicinal marijuana debate because it does not cause you to feel high, but provides many healing properties. Several studies suggest that CBD can even reduce negative effects of THC, including anxiety and fatigue.
What this really means, is that we are still at the infancy stages of fully understanding cannabis. As all 50 states look towards legalization, regulation and taxation, we can look forward to funded studies that will help us better understand all of the uses, benefits, efficacy, and safety of marijuana consumption.