All Information Displayed In This Post Is For Educational Purposes Only, And Is Not To Be Construed As Medical Advice Or Treatment For Any Specific Person Or Condition. Cannabis Has Not Been Analyzed Or Approved By The FDA. Individual Results May Vary.
Cannabis’ ubiquity as legal medicine and recreation has grown astronomically in the United States over the last decade. Even as recent as 10 years ago, legal and medical cannabis legislation seemed confined to the west coast, and full legalization was still a dream. Even as late as 2015, 10 midwestern states still prohibited cannabis in any form. Today, only 3 states, South Dakota, Idaho, and Kansas respectively, maintain full scale prohibition.
With cannabis recognized by more and more locales and regional authorities as a safe medicine and recreational substance, research behind the plant’s medical and therapeutic effects has ramped up. Today, we know much more about cannabis and its effects on the human body than ever before. Before we go into detail about what those effects are and how cannabis achieves them, let’s take a look at the history behind the plant’s illegality.+
Cannabis tinctures and concoctions like this were common before food and drug regulation
Cannabis wasn’t always illegal in the United States.
In fact, before the 1906 pure food and drug act, cannabis existed in many available, albeit unlabeled, medicinal forms. Cannabis could be found in pharmacist offices as a narcotic, an over the counter cough medicines that also contained doses of opium, similar to the original Coca Cola elixir that contained cocaine, and others. Cannabis found its way into peddled medicinal remedies.
Cannabis enjoyed legality until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The act created penalties for those who sold, grew, or distributed cannabis without paying tax on the substance. Legislators made the legal process to pay the tax intentionally confusing and complicated. The act effectively banned cannabis’ use and sale, ushering in an era of cannabis prohibition U.S. states are only now ending.
Cannabis became “marihuana,” a term commonly used by Mexican workers who smoked the substance. Popular media, like the 1936 film Reefer Madness, presented image’s of black and latinx men turning sex crazy from “marihuana” and sleeping with white women.
This racist imagery won over late 30s America, and cannabis became “marijuana.” When marijuana became parlance over cannabis, it distanced the plant from any of the medical connotations it held previously, which made prohibition easier to sell to the American public.
Today, most people in the industry refer to the plant as cannabis, to avoid these racist connotations.
Cannabis became legal thanks to its many medicinal properties
From 1937 on, cannabis remained largely illegal. Cannabis’ acceptance and support for legalization grew at a snail’s pace until the late 1990s. when proposition 215 passed in California On November 5th, 1996, California voters passed proposition 215 with a heathy 79%, legalizing medical cannabis in an American state for the first time.
The bill’s late author, Dennis Peron, wrote prop 215 because he and his partner used cannabis to treat symptoms of AIDS.
Allen Ginsberg, beatnik author and member of one of the first groups dedicated to legalizing cannabis, LEMAR, famously handed out business cards in 1968 that said, “Marijuana is fun.”
The legalization movement countered, “marijuana is medicine.” But how does cannabis provide these medical effects, and what are they? First, we must discuss the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabis interacts with your body’s endocannabinoid system
To produce effects on your body, cannabis interacts with your endocannabinoid system, or EC.
Your body’s EC regulates processes, like mood, appetite, pain sensation, memory, and others. The EC has receptors that cannabinoids, or cannabis chemicals, bind onto. This includes THC and CBD, known to produce effects often associated with cannabis’ high and its pain relieving properties respectively. Once they bind to your EC, these chemicals can produce their effects.
Since cannabis has become more readily researchable, scientists have begun full maps of cannabis’ medical property. of their research concerns cannabis terpenes.
Along with cannabinoids themselves, cannabis plant matter contains accompanying terpenes, or pungent oils that produce scent and taste. These oils work in synergy with THC and CBD to provide cannibis’ effects.
When cannabis is inhaled, THC and CBD attempt to bind to the EC system’s receptors. Terpenes actually bind to and block to some EC receptors, which amplifies some cannabinoids and subdues others, creating the profile of the high’s effects. So what are these effects?
Sativa cannabis strains, known for providing and uplifting effect good for energy and concentration, contain high amounts of limonene.
Limonene, a terpene that smells of citrus, interacts with THC and the EC system. This interaction produces an uplifting effect that energizes and stimulates creativity. Doctors and recreational budtenders prescribe limonene rich Cannabis strains to those who suffer from depression, anxiety, stress, and even fatigue.
Sativa dominant cannabis strains contain large concentrations of limonene. Sativa dominant strains are known for their long, thin leaves, as well as their bright yellow and green colors.
Along with the uplifting feel, limonene contributes to cannabis’ strong cancer killing properties. The terpene was found to reduce the destruction of the RAS gene, known to be a contributor to tumor growth.
Often described as “head heavy,” Sativa dominant strains produce a high and effects pertinent to the user’s mind, and create clarity and euphoria that help energize people who are lethargic, and provide relief to those who suffer from fatigue.
Indica cannabis strains, known for providing sedative and relaxing states good for those with insomnia and chronic pain, have high amounts Myrcene.
In direct contrast to sativa, cannabis indica dominant strains create bodily effects. Myrcene, a hoppy terpene that smells sort of skunky, can be found in high quantities in indica dominant strains, and its known for sleep inducing, pain relieving effects.
Myrcene creates the “couch lock” effect most commonly associated with indica strains. By binding and blocking to your EC system, this terpene amplifies cannabis chemicals, and provides a pain dulling, relaxing, sleep inducing effect that helps those who suffer from insomnia, as well as those who have chronic pain.
For many people who suffer from chronic pain, sleeping through the night can be a struggle. When used before bed, indica strains high in myrcene provide relief that lasts through the night.
Pinene shares it’s scent with pine trees, and is known to aid breathing as well as reduce inflammation
Pinene has a pine tree scent that is commonly associated with forests, and it produces harsh smoke when combusted. While it may seem counterintuitive, this heavy terpene helps people breathe clearly, as it has been found to act as a bronchodilator.
Pinene can be found in indica and sativa dominant strains, and provides alertness as well as anti inflammatory properties. Pinene can quell short term memory loss and increase concentration, much like limonene.
Cannabis’ medical and therapeutic benefits are only now being fully explored
Cannabis has come long way since it’s initial prohibition. Once an emblem and stereotype that symbolized racial hatred, the pot leaf has become a cultural icon associated with counter culture, caring physicians and dispensaries, and patients who have found relief.
Once considered by most a dangerous drug, cannabis has entered the conversation as a possible solution to the recent opioid crisis. One can only imagine the discoveries and benefits cannabis may provide in the only the next decade or so, as cannabis becomes available to nearly all American citizens.
About the Author
Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. , Twitter