Cannabis is a popular drug that comes from the buds and leaves of the hemp plant. Because of its unique effect which is a mixture of stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen, many people use it recreationally. Nowadays, we also use it for medicinal purposes as studies prove that it has significant health benefits and fewer side effects.
Interestingly, modern medicine can create a preparation of cannabis without its psychoactive component. So, it’s perfect for patients who need the healing properties without the associated “high”.
Unbeknownst to many, people have been consuming weed for its medical properties way back in ancient time. It was only in the early 20th century when cannabis was restricted that we stopped using it for this purpose. Luckily, many governments now recognize its value and are working to decriminalize it.
This emerging marijuana movement is helped by the fact that majority of people who use the herb are not looking for trouble. Instead, they just want to experience the euphoric effect it gives them. Not surprisingly, a poll in 2013 reported that 1 in 8 American adults smoke pot. As such, it is the most widely used illicit drug in the world.
To better understand the lure of weed, this article will explore all the essential information about it. This includes everything from its chemical make-up, side effects, strains, medical uses, and many more. By the end of this article, expect to have a basic knowledge of cannabis which will help in our use and enjoyment of it.
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Basic Facts About Cannabis
One of the most interesting things about weed is that it can grow basically anywhere. Just give it light, water, and nutrients, and after a few months, we can harvest some nice buds. Hence, many pot enthusiasts are willing to grow the plant despite some level of risk. But whether we are growing or using it, here are some of the vital facts that are worth learning.
- What is it made of?
Cannabis contains more than 460 compounds including at least 84 types of cannabinoids. These compounds interact with brain receptors which alters mood and other senses. The most commonly studied of these are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), and CBN (cannabinol).
Chemically, the main active ingredient of cannabis is the famous THC. As any weed enthusiast knows, it’s what gives the feeling of high or euphoria when taking any form of the drug. When it enters the body, it looks for CB1 receptors in the brain and attaches to them. This is what seems to produce the “high” effect.
Aside from that, it also appears to cause mood and cognitive alterations. Depending on the product that we use, the potency of THC tends to vary. As a result, we can experience different intensities and rate of the effects.
Another dominant component of cannabis is CBD which, unlike THC, is completely non-psychoactive. While it still causes some biochemical reactions in the body, it’s more about relaxation and not cerebral adventures.
In addition, this organic chemical contains many beneficial properties. Hence, patients with serious diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS often include it in their therapy.
Because of this, it is now being studied a lot more compared to other cannabinoids. Also, many growers are looking for ways to breed marijuana that has low THC and high CBD.
- Is it toxic?
Contrary to the traditional belief that cannabis is toxic, various studies show that it isn’t in reasonable doses. As such, it is not known to cause brain damage, and in fact, has few physical side effects. When used carefully, it presents no serious consequences to the cognitive and physical functions.
However, many experts recommend against using it while under any severe or stressful mental conditions. This is because the substance can strongly enhance the current state of mind and emotions.
Aside from that, prolong use is also advised against as it may trigger mental illness in people with risk factors for psychosis. All in all, moderation is key to a healthy and enjoyable cannabis experience.
- Is it addictive?
Researchers say that cannabis is less addictive than caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and cocaine or heroin. As such, it is mildly habit-forming, and dependence often occurs only among heavy users.
- What are its effects on the body?
Based on numerous reports and studies, cannabis affects three main categories in the body. This includes cognitive, physical, and sensory effects. However, we must take them with a grain of salt since they rarely occur at all depending on how much we take at once. Also, be careful not to take heavier doses as they are more likely to induce the more serious effects including injury or death.
- Cognitive Effects
The most common cognitive effects of cannabis include anxiety, heightened emotions, increased creativity, and dream suppression. In addition, users may experience sleepiness, increased sense of humor, and music appreciation. There’s also a feeling of impending doom, paranoia, and psychosis in prolonged use.
- Physical Effects
Marijuana often produces a sedative effect on the body which is what many people are after.
Of course, there’s also euphoria, muscle relaxation, and spontaneous physical sensations. Other common effects are nausea, decreased blood pressure, dryness of mouth, dehydration, and motor control loss. Also, important to mention are appetite enhancement or suppression, pain relief, and seizure suppression.
- Sensory Effects
Sensory effects of cannabis include auditory enhancement which is why most people use it while listening to music. In heavy doses, it causes hearing distortions which can place the user in possible danger.
When it comes to visual effects, the most common are color enhancement and brightness alteration. Because of these, watching a movie can be a very surreal experience. However, blurriness can also occur which, again, can be dangerous when driving a car. Likewise, in heavy doses, there may be hallucinations and misinterpretations of visual information.
Although rarely occurring, the user can experience synesthesia. Oftentimes, it is hard to reproduce, and it seems to only happen in heavy doses and a history of the multi-sensory condition.
- What happens when it is combined with other drugs?
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As it often happens, recreational and medicinal drugs have a way of producing unique effects when combined with others. Hence, it’s important to know what happens when we use weed along with some of the popular substances.
It’s not a good idea to combine cannabis with alcohol as it often creates feelings of extreme nausea, double vision, and dizziness. Therefore, avoid using both together, or consume the weed first before drinking as doing the other way around results to unpleasant reactions.
Using depressants like benzodiazepines or opioids often minimizes the hallucinogenic effects of weed. In place of it, we get changes in bodily sensations, such as muscle relaxation, sedation, and anxiety suppression.
Dissociatives like Ketamine and LSD induces more intense hallucinations when used with weed. Typically, users will experience vivid visuals which often result in deeper confusion and increase the chances for delusions.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
SSRIs produce calm and pleasant experiences when used with marijuana. Examples of this drug are citalopram, sertraline, and fluoxetine.
With stimulants, cannabis tends to enhance euphoric effects, especially when it comes to appreciation of music. However, we should use this combination with caution, as it can lead to states of anxiety, paranoia, confusion, delusions, and psychosis.
Both cannabis and psychedelics have been shown to have the potential to induce psychosis especially to those who are vulnerable. Hence, caution is recommended when combining these two substances.
- What are its strains?
Marijuana come from different strains, but the major ones are Indica and Sativa. When mixed together, they create hybrid strains that have their own range of effects. As a result, we have thousands of strains for recreational and medicinal uses.
Indica plants are short and wide compared to sativa strains which typically grow tall and thin. Hence, they are better suited for indoor gardening because they don’t occupy too much space.
In terms of effects, the high produced from smoking the buds of an Indica strain provides a deep relaxation and sedation.
Sativa plants are better suited for outdoor growing since they can sometimes reach over 25 ft. in height. Compared to the strong relaxation of the Indica strain, a Sativa high is more energetic and uplifting.
- What are its forms?
Marijuana is such a versatile drug that it comes in various forms and shapes. In this section, we will examine the most common and popular cannabis preparation. Take note that the potency of THC varies depending on the form.
One of the most popular forms is marijuana-infused butter which is known as cannabutter. However, there are many more varieties of cannabis infusions depending on the solvent that we want to use.
For example, we can also use coconut oil, cocoa butter, and even skin moisturizers as the base of this form. Understandably, this form is more well-known among those who like to ingest their weed.
Also known as hash, this form looks like a cake or ball of concentrated resin from pressed leaves and flowers. To make this, we extract the resin from the plant, dry it, then later press it into small blocks or balls. Typically, we smoke it but other people eat is as well.
- Hashish Oil
Without a doubt, the most potent form of THC is hash oil. This is because it contains highly concentrated extracts of cannabis buds and leaves. The downside is the often-dangerous process that it takes to make it. Luckily, there are now equipment and procedures that make it safer.
The powder form of cannabis which is sifted from the leaves and flowers is called kief. For convenience, it can also be compressed to produce cakes of hashish.
Using high-proof spirits like grain alcohol, we can extract the essence of cannabis in the form of tinctures. Because it is much easier and less conspicuous to use and carry around, many people prefer this form.
- While Flower and Leaf
Out of all the forms of cannabis, the dried leaves and flowers contain the lowest levels of THC. Nonetheless, it is the most widely consumed form of smoking and comes in green, brown or gray.
- How do we consume it?
Depending on preference, we can enjoy cannabis in many ways. Therefore, it’s good to know the methods of consumption so we can find the one that we like best.
- Cannabis Tea
Perfect for those who enjoy a good cup of tea, this method offers small concentrations of THC. Simply pour cream or milk into the hot water then add a small amount of dried cannabis.
Fast gaining popularity in the marijuana movement is the edibles. From pastries, savory dishes, to drinks, we can add cannabis as an ingredient and get that buzz. Because of its practicality, many patients prefer to take their medicinal marijuana this way.
The most common way people enjoy cannabis is by smoking it. As such, there are many ways to do this depending on preference and availability. This includes rolling it in a joint, using a bong, or heating it up in a vaporizer.
Tinctures are the least popular way of consuming cannabis but mostly because not a lot of people know about it. Basically, it is the best way to enjoy weed for those who don’t want to smoke it. By simply swallowing drops of it, we can feel the pleasant and healing effects of the herb.
Some people choose to get the benefits of pot by applying it on their skin in the form of a healing cream. For some, using a lip balm that contains the cannabinoids work better for them.
- How do we potentiate its effects?
Looking to prolong the effects of cannabis? According to various anecdotal reports on the internet, mangoes potentiate and intensify the effects of weed. For best results, consume the fruit exactly 30 to 90 minutes before the high takes effect.
By theory, the potentiation occurs due to the psychoactive compound called myrcene in mangoes. The sedative nature of this chemical combined with its ability to bind to THC receptor sites in the brain is what extends the cannabis experience.
Other ways that we can try to get a stronger and longer buzz include eating dark chocolates and ingesting fish oils.
- What are its medical uses?
As mentioned, the CBD in cannabis is starting to make a name in medicine. Presently, it is considered as a treatment option for serious and severe diseases. But it’s also useful as a pain reliever and cure for nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.
Moreover, many cancer and AIDS patients take advantage of its appetite-enhancing properties to gain weight. Because of its cornucopia of healing properties, many doctors and health professionals hope to mainstream it to the public. In fact, a few CBD-based drugs are already available to treat epilepsy and other health conditions.
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Knowledge About Cannabis is Important
Ideally, before deciding to use cannabis, we must learn everything we can about it. As such, knowledge helps us navigate the drug with caution so that we reduce negative results. Of course, this will also increase our enjoyment of it which makes the whole experience more satisfying.
So, when using cannabis, always try to learn about the strain as well as monitor the effects that occur in our bodies. While adverse reactions are rare, it pays to be careful and avoid the problem altogether.
In general, this article aims to educate those who have the interest to learn about cannabis. Hence, keep on learning about this wonder herb as it will most likely take center stage in the years to come.