To many, marijuana is seen as a horrible narcotic that causes many physical and social problems. To others, it's a harmless drug that gives the body a relaxing sensation. Marijuana can be found on many college campuses and high schools. It is estimated that at least 70 million Americans have tried it, and of those people, 10-14% become dependent of the drug (1). Marijuana is often referred to as the "gateway" drug, leading the user to more serious narcotics. Marijuana users experience different sensations, from excessive mellowness, fuzzy memory, to the munchies. Some of the typical effects are impairment of memory, alteration of memory, motor coordination, posture, cognitive ability, and sensory perception. So what is it in marijuana that keeps users wanting more?
The active ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The structure of THC is very similar to the endogenous cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids for short, which are naturally occurring chemicals in the body (1).The THC binds to the receptors of the endocannabinoids, and activates the neurons, causing the different sensations experienced during a high. These receptors are spread throughout the brain. THC affects the central nervous system, as well as the peripheral tissue systems. THC can reduce pain, lower body temperature, and enhance appetite. It can also be used for anti-inflammatory, bronchodilatory, and anti-convulsant, which is why THC is used for medicinal purposes. THC is used as a popular treatment for glaucoma by reducing ocular pressure, and for neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Huntington's Disease, and spinal cord injury (4).
The THC acts on the receptors of the endocannabinoids. Two known endocannabinoi...
... middle of paper ...
... the "munchies" a physiological effect of marijuana use, or just a psychological effect? Though I did not get an answer, I think it may be related to THC. This question may require more research for the future.
1) Carrol, Linda, Marijuana Effects: More Than Just Munchies, New York Times, January 29, 2002
2)endogenous signaling system: chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology, from the Internet Journal of Science - Biological Chemistry
3)Hooked on Hash, from New Scientist, 2000
4)The Pharmacology and Biochemistry of Cannabinoid Receptors, May 1997
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