In the last few years, marijuana has gone from being the source of “Reefer Madness” to reputed medical miracle in many jurisdictions around the world. Why has this come about so quickly and what is some of the science behind it?
Why the Change?
The answer to this can be traced back in part to morphine. Scientists wondered why our cells had receptors (structures that recognize chemicals) for morphine. They postulated that our bodies must make something similar. In due course, endorphins, from endogenous (internal) morphine were discovered. Endorphins are thought to be involved in the sensation of euphoria called “runner’s high”.
Similarly scientists wondered why ingesting marijuana has the effect it does. Also, in due course, cannibinoid receptors were discovered. Not surprisingly, there are compounds made in various parts of our bodies called endocannibinoids.
Where morphine and THC (tetrahydracannibinol), the principal active ingredient of marijuana, have their downsides, cannabidiol appears to share some of the benefits of naturally occurring chemicals.
Cannabidiol is one of more than 80 cannabinoid like substances found in marijuana. It has been shown not to produce euphoria or intoxication. Studies have identified receptors for it in both the brain and our immune system and possible therapeutic benefits.
Possible uses include treatment for seizures, inflammation, cancer, psychosis and anxiety. However, many of the studies did not establish proper baselines or did not have adequate statistical analysis. Nevertheless, some double blind studies do show promise in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
For a much more exhaustive review of the problems and promise of CBD, read this report by the National Institute of Drug Addiction to the US Senate in June of 2015.
The debate over decriminalization, legalization & full acceptance will surely be in the news.
Cannabidiol the Spinning Mobile
Compare cannabidiol (CBD) as shown below to tetrahydracannibinol (THC). You can build both with our 3D Molecular Model Builder. The models can be used in pharmacology lectures or drug education programs.