Weed Word of the Week: THC

This series is meant to explain the various cannabis-related terms you may have heard. The following is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to condone the use or consumption of the term being defined. For more information, please refer to our disclaimer

If you know anything about cannabis — even just a little bit  — you have most likely heard of THC, even if you’re not exactly familiar with precisely what it does. The full term for the abbreviation is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the primary psychotropic cannabinoid found in cannabis and is responsible for psychological and physiological effects on your mind and body. In other words, it gets you high.

In 1964, an Israeli chemist named Raphael Mechoulam, considered the father of modern cannabis, successfully isolated and synthesized the chemical compound for the first time and almost two decades later, Dr. Allyn Howler identified the endocannabinoid system (cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body), which explains how THC is able to interact with, influence and benefit us.

When the potent compound binds to cannabinoid receptors that are concentrated in the brain and nervous system, the endocannabinoid system stimulates cognitive and behavioural changes.  THC has a range of possible effects depending on the amount, method of consumption and an individual’s personal body chemistry. The same is true for the amount of time it takes for each person to begin feeling the effects. Smoking and vaping will produce faster results than eating edibles or taking a tincture.

For most people, consumed THC typically produces an assortment of short-term sensations including the most common – a sense of euphoria, a change in appetite and pleasant drowsiness – to heightened sensory perception, increased socialization (talking, laughing) and reduced pain and inflammation.

The body can also absorb THC through cannabis-infused topicals like lotions, creams, salves, oils and balms, but will not necessarily induce the same high associated with consuming it because it doesn’t enter the bloodstream. THC used in this way offers localized, therapeutic relief from pain like sore muscles, tension in the body, cramps, headaches and even inflammation caused by ailments like arthritis.

Story by K. Astre

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