Basics Of Bud
Cannabis the plant.
Most of us have heard words like “ganja,” “mary jane,” and “reefer,” seen people smoking “spliffs” and “joints,” watched viral videos of CBD oil treating seizures, or smelled that distinct odour wafting through the streets. As is suggested by the many cultures surrounding cannabis, this plant manages to be more complicated than most. How can one plant produce such diverse effects in different people, ranging from euphoric to intensely unenjoyable, stimulating to sedating, and so many more? The answer to that question is ultimately more than a humble blog post can cover, but we’ll do our best.
To simplify it a bit, all of these effects come down to two groups of chemicals – terpenes and cannabinoids.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic (think “smelly) chemicals that give most plants, especially herbs, their delightful scents. From sage to thyme, rosemary to lavender, pepper to parsley, and (of course) cannabis, these smelly little molecules manage to create an almost infinite array of aromas. And on top of that, terpenes seem to “direct” a cannabis high. How?
To be entirely honest, it’s not fully understood! What is clear is that terpenes produce a wide swath of effects in the body ranging from relaxation to arousal and beyond – they can even help to clear the lungs of mucus and improve memory! That intense calm brought on by lavender? Terpenes. The brightness in your soul when you squeeze a lemon? You guessed it – terpenes! And with cannabis producing well over 31, there’s no shortage of mood-modulating effects to be had.
So what are cannabinoids?
This is where it gets really interesting! Unlike terpenes, cannabinoids are only produced in high quantities in the cannabis plant, and oh boy does it produce them. The lowest estimate sits at 66 unique cannabinoids produced in the plant, but some research places this number as high as 113 – yes, 113 unique compounds unique to cannabis. No wonder cannabis can be such a head-scratcher!
It’d be hard to sum up cannabinoids in one little paragraph, but in short, they’re the reason cannabis is cannabis. From the psychedelic high of THC to the non-intoxicating relaxation offered by CBD (alongside the lesser known cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBN) it’s clear that these plant chemicals can get a lot done.
Cannabinoids produce their effects through their interactions with our endocannabinoid system, a many million year old system of chemicals, receptors, and enzymes that helps to keep our bodies in balance day in and day out. By “imitating” these chemicals, cannabinoids can produce the range of enjoyable effects we know and love.
Fret not – we’ll be covering these plant chemicals in depth over the coming weeks, so you won’t be left wondering why cannabis does what it does. After all, education is empowerment, and we want the Clarity community to feel as confident as they can when deciding what product is best for them.
If you found this blog post helpful, share it with your friends! (buttons on the left.)
About the author
Lana Tong is an aspiring Endocannabinoid Psychopharmacologist and Squirrel Behavioral Therapist based in Victoria, British Columbia. She’s passionate about cannabis as a medicine, entheogen, food, fiber crop, and so much more. Lana hopes to one day swim in a pool filled with organic CBD-infused coconut oil – we all have dreams, right?