So we all know that smoking marijuana gets you high, but have you ever thought about what exactly is going on in your body that creates such an effect? Nearly 40 years ago, researchers discovered that the main psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis is called tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC.  But how exactly does THC work? How does your brain react to these foreign chemicals?

Not all of these questions have been fully solved; however scientists have begun to uncover these mysteries.  THC is a very potent chemical compared to other psychoactive drugs, taking only seconds to enter your bloodstream and reach the brain. Marijuana users typically define the experience of smoking marijuana as relaxing and mellow, usually feeling a bit of haziness, but also may feel a slight bit of paranoia and panic in certain circumstances.  This all happens due to how our brain functions.  Let us give you a quick run-through on exactly how our brains work:

-Neurons in the brain are the cells that process information.

-Neurotransmitters allows neurons to communicate with one-another

-Neurotransmitters fill the gap between two neuron and bind to protein receptors. This enables various functions to take place.

-Some neurons have thousands of receptors that are specific to certain neurotransmitters.

-Foreign influence, like THC for instance, can alter the actions of neurotransmitters and interfere with normal functions.

-There are groups of cannabinoid receptors located in various areas of the brain, including the cerebellum, hippocampus, and basal ganglia.

So now that you have some basic information regarding brain functions, let us explain what takes place when THC is consumed.  The cannabinoid receptors are activated by a neuro transmitter called “anandamide”. Anandamide is a type of cannabinoid, as is THC.  THC mimics the actions of anandamide, meaning that it binds with cannabinoid receptors and activates neurons.  This is what causes adverse effects on the mind and body.  The highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors exists in the hippocampus, which is located in the temporal lobe and is directly related to short-term memory.  The cerebellum is also affected by THC, which alters one’s coordination.  The basal ganglia controls muscle movements, more specifically unconscious movement. This is the reason why one’s coordination may seem a bit impaired when under the influence.

You see, it is a bit more scientific than simply inhaling smoke and getting high. There are actually thousands of chemical reactions going on every time you take a puff. So next time you light up, think about what’s going on inside your brain, we’re sure you will find it interesting.


The Weed Street Journal Team