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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Are The Effects Of Marijuana So Unpredictable?


It’s long been known that different strains of the drug contain various amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient. When people talk about the effects of the drug – such as giddiness, the munchies and a sudden desire to watch The Big Lebowski they’re typically referring to the effects of THC. (Interestingly, the same chemical can also make us paranoid. More on that later.) But THC doesn’t work alone – marijuana also contains cannabidiol, a compound associated with calm and relaxation. The ratio of THC to cannabidiol seems to be the key variable: Skunk-type strains, for instance, contain a higher ratio of THC to cannabidiol than, say, hashish. (According to a paper in Neuropsychopharmacology, “Delta-9-THC and CBD can have opposite effects on regional brain function, which may underlie their different symptomatic and behavioural effects, and CBD’s ability to block the psychotogenic effects of delta-9-THC.”) In general, high levels of THC seem to be desired by marijuana users, which helps explain why levels of THC have increased dramatically in the last few decades.

Now for the bad news: These popular skunk-strains (high in THC, low in cannabidiol) seem to be uniquely associated with memory loss. That at least is the lesson of a recent paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

The subjects were divided into groups of high (samples containing more than 0.75% cannabidiol) and low (less than 0.14%) cannabidiol exposure, and the data were filtered so that their THC levels were constant. Analysis showed that participants who had smoked cannabis low in cannabidiol were significantly worse at recalling text than they were when not intoxicated. Those who smoked cannabis high in cannabidiol showed no such impairment.

The larger message is that it’s very difficult to generalise about the effects of most drugs. Just look at marijuana: One of the recurring mysteries of the drug is why the same compound can both relax us and make us paranoid; it sometimes causes uncontrollable laughter and sometimes leads to runaway anxiety. This suggests that the context of use – our mental state when smoking a joint, or eating a pot brownie – can profoundly influence the outcome. While it remains mostly unclear how or why this happens, there’s some interesting new research on endocannabinoids in rough-skinned newts. (Endocannabinoids are a class of neuromodulators widely expressed in the brain. Their name gives away the punchline: THC binds to endocannabinoid receptors with ease.)  The basic moral of these studies is that the endocannabinoid system is tightly interwoven with the stress system.


Read the full article on Gizmodo here.


For those too lazy to read the whole thing, here is the tl;dr version as I understand it.

-Marijuana contains more than just THC. It also has cannabidiol.
-Higher ratio of THC to cannabidiol = more preferred "mind high," but also more impaired memory.
-Lower ratio of THC to cannabidiol = more of a knock-you-out, relaxing "body high," and less/no impaired memory.
-Also, (of course), your high will be different depending on the state of your mind, where you are, etc.


Thanks to Gordon for this comment:

Sativa: mind-expanding, creative, giggly, appetite
Indica: Relaxed, pain-relieving, body stone

65 comments:

  1. interesting how different strains do such different things... I can't find any that does anything good ot me =P

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  2. Nice blog. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. i like a nice body high but i don't like nocking out during my comedown, brain highs are lots of fun though it makes every thing funny, so if you want to smoke and feed good you need to be normal around your parents a lower tch to cannabidiol is better apparently
    really good info i would love to see more

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  5. I don't smoke anymore. It's too illegal for me to do right now.

    This is great info though. I'm going to share with people that I know.

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  6. I like the ones with lower cannibidol, I fucking hate head highs man, I think way too much and can't talk and joke around.

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  7. Glad I read about this, I'm going to research my favorite strains a little more before I make a choice for next time. Thanks!

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  8. i did not know most of that, cool

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  9. i'm pretty ignorant when it comes to weed, so it helped my understanding

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  10. this reminds me that I should partake in some of this activity before bed :)

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  11. i don't really smoke... I'm not against people who do, but I just avoid it

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  12. I heard spice has like mega thc and very little canabiod

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  13. Pretty interesting. Now I know what I'm going to get next time. ha

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  14. all about your mental situation, feelings, mood, thoughts etc and surroundings. Like any drug really. well, Weed and possibly LSD. however that is much more detrimental :P

    Cool little post, please check out my Razer Lycosa review on my blog =D

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  15. Drugs are cool, mkay, don't be a puss.
    And regarding Miss Fortune; That's just how they write the story bro.

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  16. I have no official stance on weed, but if there are things out there that can kill you legally, then something like weed which isn't as harmful should be made legal as well.

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  17. It's good to be back, mate, thank you :D Still a little tough to balance it all, but it's good to be back. Loved the post today, I've been doing similar independent research... perse.

    -JKane

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  18. it does relax you though

    btw, check out my new post on GTL Everyday :)

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  19. "thats just like, your opinion....man."

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  20. I have a some stuff with almost zero THC and tons of cannabidiol. Cured my insomnia and some of the pain i was having.

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  21. thats awesome haha

    check out my livetv blog, apprentice UK tonight 9pm GMT

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  22. good information i dont use this :P and i dont now what is effects:P

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  23. smoking the stuff...

    btw, check out my new bubbles on Enhanced by MS Paint :)

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  24. I'll just avoid smoking for now, thank you!

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  25. sign me up for both! I'm sure it differs from one strain to the next too, not only the 2 main types.

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  26. you really went in depth here.i read stuff i didnt know.thx

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  27. I don't really smoke much, so I dunno

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  28. good read, thanks for sharing

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  29. any knowledge on the synthetic THC?(Spice, K2, etc) I'm tested at work and I'm tempted to try the fake stuff, if it's any good...

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  30. intersting read, thank you for sharing

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  31. looking forward to your next post

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  32. I dunno, I think it just comes down to the fact that no two people have the exact same brain chemistry. Just my $0.02

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  33. Aren't there other, yet unidentified, compounds in cannabis that can account for differences in the strains and other psychoactive effects?

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  34. This was so interesting to read. I've wondered why this was. my gf always get super paranoid and jittery, and i always get really tired.

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  35. thank you for the tl;dr part :)

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  36. we need some more posts dude lol

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  37. Finally, a GOOD article about weed. Keep it up man.

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  38. finally something informative about weed...

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  39. Nice post. I enjoy having knowledge behind every type of joint I smoke.

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  40. Wow, thanks for doing the research so I don't have to.....
    I'll smoke one for ya! ;)

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  41. Interesting post! Thanks for the info!

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  42. Very interesting post, I definately appreciate this research!

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  43. are you going to write features on other drugs?

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  44. Heck, theres alot more to mary jane than I thought...

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