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Cannabis and Your Body

Different types of cannabis result in different effects. It depends on the plant strain’s chemical makeup — and yours.

 
 

Cannabis is not one substance. It’s a plant with many different strains, each with its own biological make-up. And, cannabis research has been restricted for decades. As a result, understanding the effects that cannabis consumption will have on your body is always an inexact science.

We do know that every person is different, and every cannabis strain will have different effects on different people.  While we can’t predict what your individual reaction to a cannabis product will be, we can explain some of the common experiences, and common effects.

 

THC versus CBD: What’s the difference?

THC and CBD both come from the cannabis plant; however, they are chemically very different. In slang terms, THC gets you high, while CBD doesn’t.  Basically, THC usually produces intoxicating effects when consumed; CBD is psychoactive, but not intoxicating.  Confused?  You’re not the only one. One rule of thumb: CBD can help with pain, but doesn’t “get you high.” THC, on the other hand, requires caution like any other substance with intoxicating effects.

What’s the science here?

THC is an agonist, or activator, of the cannabinoid 1 (CBD1) receptor. Brain imaging studies have shown increased blood flow to the prefrontal cortex region of the brain during THC intoxication. This region of the brain is responsible for decision-making, attention and other executive functions, like motor skills.

As for CBD, it’s often touted as “non-psychoactive,” which is somewhat misleading. Any substance that has a direct effect on the function of the brain is considered to be psychoactive. CBD most certainly does this, as it can offer very powerful anti-seizure and anti-anxiety properties.

 

Common side effects

Changes in blood pressure, a common result of consuming cannabis, can lead to the dilation of blood vessels and capillaries, which in turn causes increased blood flow to the eyes. As a result, red, bloodshot eyes are a common side effect of cannabis consumption.

 

Second-hand highs – are they real?

According to a 2015 John Hopkins University study, yes and no. Researchers concluded that being exposed to marijuana smoke under “extreme conditions” can indeed give non-smokers what some would call a “contact buzz.” Outside of that very limited scope, though, any secondhand effects you might feel around cannabis smoke are likely to be a placebo effect. That is, you believe you are feeling intoxicated because you’ve convinced yourself you’ve been exposed to a substance that will get you “high.”