A Place to Start
By William Mills
The world of legal Cannabis can be overwhelming to say the least, even to somewhat “seasoned” consumers. It is because Cannabis has become so widely available, that we have just recently been able to learn such a considerable amount about the plant and its properties. Seemingly every day, both amateurs and professionals alike are making discoveries about Cannabis’ cultivation, effects, chemistry, and benefits. Here we will discuss some of the basics in order to help you make the most informed decisions about your Cannabis-infused lifestyle.
In order to become more familiar with the plant we will start at the beginning. Cannabis is a generally somewhat intoxicating plant believed to have originated in South Central Asia. From there, it seems to have literally followed civilization’s continued inhabitation of the planet may be due to the endocannabinoid system in humans. Sprouting up almost everywhere humans can be found, it has been celebrated as a medicine, intoxicant and as an industrial fiber for over 10,000 years according to historians. It was not until the mid twentieth century that it gained its illicit reputation and was placed under Federal prohibition in the United States, sparking a crackdown around the world using US business relations as leverage. It has recently, in the past decade, started to gain traction in the US as a medicine and thus has become legal to some extent in many States. As stated above, this is creating the benefit of allowing the scientific community and the general public to have an increased understanding of the many positive aspects of Cannabis.
When consuming Cannabis, it is generally the female flowers that are desired. This is primarily due to the production of resin glands containing the majority of the plant’s THCa. THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the main chemical found in Cannabis and is converted by heat and or light into THC giving it a more intoxicating effect. THCa is produced in its highest amounts when the female flowers of the Cannabis plant reach full maturity. The resin glands that contain the majority of the THCa are known as trichomes and resemble glass lollipops under a magnifying lens, but when viewed by the naked eye can resemble crystals or sugar. Although it should be noted that it is sometimes possible to see defined trichome structure with the naked eye with certain strains of high quality Cannabis. These female plants are separated from the males at the earliest possible point in order to avoid pollination. When pollination does occur, the female flowers become full of seeds, which is not desirable for consumption. People are looking for sensimilla (seedless cannabis).
When the female flowers of the Cannabis plant are consumed, in any one of a number of available methods, over one hundred different cannabinoids begin to interact with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is the main cause of the many effects of Cannabis. Below I have listed some of the most common “positive” and “negative” effects.
- Decreased Anxiety
- Mood Elevation
- Increased Appetite
- Increased Appreciation of Music and Art
- Decreased Nausea
- Treats Chronic Pain
- Treats Insomnia
- Possible Treatment of Other Symptoms of Illness
- Dry Eye
- Dry Mouth
- Decreased Reaction Time
- Decreased Coordination
- Aggravation of Mental Illness
It should always be kept in mind that Medical Cannabis is a psychoactive and hallucinogenic, therefore having the possibility of exhibiting different effects on different people. So, in this way, Cannabis may not be the best treatment for everyone. However, as far as an all natural plant medicine, there are not many that can be compared to Cannabis. It is also important to note that at this early stage of legalization and study, the majority of our knowledge is either first hand or anecdotal and the above lists are in no way comprehensive. This will change as the stigma changes in this county. However, due to its relatively low impact and high possibility of therapeutic value, there is little wonder why it has been used by so many cultures for thousands of years as a “cure-all”.
In the above-listed effects it can be seen that some of the effects of Cannabis are exactly and paradoxically opposite. This is due to the fact that, as mentioned earlier, over one hundred different cannabinoids are interacting with the ECS, which is a complex system having an influence over practically every system of the body. Although it is true that the most popular cannabinoids are THC and CBD, a large number of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids cause the more nuanced and strain-specific effects desired. It is these interactions paired with differences in one’s personal biology that can make everyone’s experience differ, sometimes greatly. This is why Cannabis should always be consumed responsibly as well as many strains to find what is right for you, if you feel cannabis can help you.
It is my hope that after reading this you have gained a better understanding of some of the basic principles and concepts of Cannabis use. This should serve as a good beginning point on your exciting journey into the magical world of Cannabis and all of the wonders it can offer you. But as always, the most important things are to listen to your body and to be able to trust your caretakers to take care of you. The best way to facilitate that is, of course, to educate and Elev8!
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