The cannabinoid that everyone knows about is THC. Most strains of cannabis have been bred with THC levels in mind but there is another important cannabinoid that I would argue has had a lot to do with general cannabis acceptance as a medicine and that is CBD.
It has been touted as a wonder drug for those it helps but how does it interact with THC?
THC, as is widely know is the cannabinoid that binds to the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 which are found mostly in the central nervous system and the immune system. This binding and activation and suppression of neurotransmitters is what gives users that feeling of being high.
CBD or Cannabidiol weakly binds to those same receptors and on of the effects is that it slows down the breakdown of THC at those same receptors intensifying the effects.
CBD also binds more strongly to another set of receptors called the 5-HT1A receptors. It’s this binding that is the cause of much excitement among medical researchers. These class of receptors exist in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, septum, amygdala and the raphe nucleus (which is one of the mechanisms that releases serotonin throughout the brain). This receptor is also the same one that SSRI’s target in anti-anxiety medications. CBD’s role in the ATP processes may also guard against the nerotoxic effects of THC in the brain.
CBD exists only small amounts in most strains of marijuana but through selective breeding several high CBD specific strains have been developed such as the well known Charlotte’s Web strain which has less than .3% of THC and a CBD level of over 4%. Other specific varietals include CBD Mango Haze, Island Sweet Skunk and Harle-Tsu.
Now the mechanism and the transformation that happens to the CBD uptake when smoked is not as effective as other methods of absorbtion in the body. Because of the temperature volatility of CBD and THC , vaporising either the plant material or vaporising cannabis extracts is more effective.
GW pharmaceuticals is one of the big pharma players that have been looking at CBD for a couple years now. Epidiolex is a CBD extract that is being used to treat pediatric epilepsy sine 2007. The only problem is that is costs between 2500-5000 a month. The same extract created by the cannabis industry would only cost 500-1000 a month.
But is cases and coverage like when Pascal Pakter, founder of Hyperfly said “I use CBD, and CBD has saved my life”.
Or when the family of a toddler in BC shares their story of how CBD allows their child to live a seizure free life.
These are the stories that will drive the acceptance of medical marijuana and cannabis in general.