Cannabis- Introduction, Uses, Side effects and more

What is cannabis?

The genus Cannabis belongs to Cannabaceae family. More than 700 varieties, and three recognized species of cannabis exist; including Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

Cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids), polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenes, terpenoids, fatty acids, oils, and waxes are the main among 400 bioactive components of cannabis.

Compounds contained in the cannabis plant are known as cannabinoids. They have an effect on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which controls a number of physiological and mental functions.


What exactly are cannabinoids? 

Cannabinoids are a class of chemicals present in the cannabis plant. 

THC and cannabidiol are the two most prevalent cannabinoids (CBD).

Cannabis is a natural medication; the cannabinoids it contains include many compounds, some of the most and least significant cannabinoids are listed:

  • CBD (cannabidiol)
  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • CBG (cannabigerol)
  • CBN (cannabinol)
  • CBC (cannabichromene)
  • CBT (cannabicitran)
  • CBV (cannabinodivarin)
  • CBR (cannabiripsol)
  • Anandamide (endocannabinoid)
  • 2-AG (endocannabinoid)

The primary psychoactive (mind-altering) component of marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is in charge of the majority of the intoxicating effects that users want. The substance is mostly present in resin produced by the female cannabis plant’s leaves and buds.

What do cannabinoids do?

A group of chemicals known as cannabinoids interact with the body’s cannabinoid receptors. Phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids are the three primary categories of cannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids generated by the human body, whereas phytocoids are cannabinoids that are derived from plants. Lab-produced cannabinoids are known as synthetic cannabinoids. 

Cannabinoids interact with cannabinoid receptors to control a number of bodily processes, including pain perception, mood, memory, and inflammation. Also, they can be applied to a number of medical disorders.

A non-psychotropic cannabinoid called CBD, for instance, is frequently used to treat epilepsy and other neurological conditions. The psychoactive cannabinoid THC is frequently used to relieve nausea and discomfort. A non-psychotropic cannabinoid called CBG is being researched for its possible ability to fight cancer. 

There are recreational uses for cannabinoids as well. The primary psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, THC, is what gives smoking marijuana its characteristic “high.” Although CBD doesn’t get you high, it has been proven to offer a number of medicinal advantages.

Are marijuana and cannabis the same thing?

Cannabis and marijuana are frequently used interchangeably. These two words, however, are not the same. The term “cannabis” refers to all products made from the Cannabis sativa plant. 

Cannabis sativa plant components or byproducts that have high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentrations are referred to as “marijuana”.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a greenish-gray combination made up of the dried flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant. It is also known as weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, and many other slang words.

water pipes (also known as bongs), or blunts (marijuana rolled in cigar wraps). 

Moreover, marijuana may be used to make tea, and it’s regularly combined with sweets like brownies, cookies, or candies, especially when it’s marketed or used as medicine. 

Also, the usage of vaporizers to ingest marijuana is growing. 

Stronger varieties of marijuana include sinsemilla (from particularly managed female plants) and concentrated resins with high concentrations of the drug’s active components, such as waxy budder, hard amber-like shatter, and hash oil that resembles honey. These resins are becoming more and more well-liked among those who use them for recreational and therapeutic purposes.

Botanical Perspective of Cannabis plant

Cannabis plants can be hermaphrodite, male, or female from a botanical perspective (containing both male and female reproductive parts). 

Heteromorphic chromosomes in cannabis plants determine the gender (presence of XY chromosomes in male gametes). Due to their physical similarity, male and female plants are difficult to distinguish. Therefore, molecular cytogenetic characterization, polymerase chain reaction allele competitive extension (PACE) assays, sequence characterized amplified region (SCAR) markers, and other molecular biology-based testing methods are used in the biomolecular techniques used for gender detection screening of Cannabis plants at early developmental stages.

Cannabis plants produce secondary metabolites such cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenoids, alkaloids, lignans, anthocyanins, and quinones in their leaves and female flowers, which is why these parts of the plant are of great interest. 

The glandular trichome spikes on the leafy surface of the female flower, which is home to the greatest cannabinoid reservoir, is the typical location for storage. 

The hermaphrodite’s male flower, which is also present, pollinates the female flower, which then develops into a seed, resulting in fertilization. 

This plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids is generally referred to as hemp seed. 

Due to the sexual phenotypes of Cannabis plants being flexible, it is uncommon for them to produce hermaphrodite flowers or bisexual inflorescence.

A secondary metabolite’s quality may be impacted by cross-pollination. In order to prevent cloning for optimal secondary metabolite synthesis, male plants are eliminated, and the desired female plants are chosen.

Cannabis in Treatment of Health Conditions

Some uncommon kinds of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting brought on by cancer treatment, and appetite loss and weight loss brought on by HIV/AIDS may all be helped by cannabinoid-containing medications. However, some research points to minor advantages of cannabis or cannabinoids for multiple sclerosis symptoms and chronic pain. Cannabis does not relieve glaucoma symptoms.

Side effects of medical marijuana

Although further research is required to provide an answer, the following medicinal marijuana negative effects might occur: 

  • Higher heart rate 
  • Dizziness
  • impaired memory and attention 
  • sluggish response times 
  • negative interactions between medications 
  • risk of heart attack and stroke rising 
  • higher appetite 
  • Possibility of addiction 
  • either delusions or a mental ailment 
  • signs of withdrawal 

Some medicinal marijuana is designed to relieve symptoms without the euphoric, depressing effects related to marijuana usage for recreational purposes.

Concluding comments on cannabinoids, their advantages, and their negative effects 

The cannabis plant contains several cannabinoids; however, they are not the only ones. Endocannabinoids are crucial for endocannabinoid signaling, and phytocannabinoids including CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, and CBDA may improve or support it. 

In contrast to actual cannabis plants, synthetic cannabinoids contain a number of chemical components that aren’t present in the same concentrations in actual cannabis plants. These can be dangerous since their effects are mimicked rather than based on actual cannabis receptors. 

In-depth clinical human testing has not been conducted on cannabinoids, despite the fact that CBD is beneficial in treating severe infantile epilepsy. This failure is really annoying. 

The abundance of exploratory research should eventually result in more definitive human research.


Binod G C

I'm Binod G C (MSc), a PhD candidate in cell and molecular biology who works as a biology educator and enjoys scientific blogging. My proclivity for blogging is intended to make notes and study materials more accessible to students.

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