High Hopes: The Science of Cannabis and THC

The cannabis industry is growing fast, with California expected to bring in $6 billion in revenue from cannabis in 2021. With more states legalizing the substance, the market will only get bigger.

While cannabis itself is a major financial and social talking point, THC often gets mixed into the conversation. Many people struggle to distinguish the two, which does a disservice to both cannabis and THC’s capabilities.

But how do cannabis and THC work? What is the science of cannabis?

That’s what we’re looking at today. Read on to learn more about the science of cannabis and THC here.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is an umbrella term for three popular psychoactive plants associated with marijuana.

This includes the Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. When you dry these flowers, you get marijuana or weed. Cannabis is famous for its relaxing and calming effects, commonly known as its “high.”

Cannabis has historically been criminalized, but many states are loosening restrictions. It’s also widely used as a form of medical treatment for things like glaucoma, chronic pain, and poor appetite.

Cannabis is quite a complex plant. It has over 120 components known as cannabinoids. Scientists don’t know what all of these cannabinoids do, but they are sure about two such components.

CBD and THC are two main psychoactive cannabinoids that affect most users. They each bring properties that have unique effects, such as dulling pain and inducing a high.

Benefits of Cannabis

The most widely accepted benefit of cannabis is its pain-relief benefits. Their chemical makeup has been linked to reducing pain for many patients.

There have also been signs that cannabis aids your body in regulating insulin. This helps you manage your caloric intake differently, leading to healthier weight loss.

It’s also effective at stabilizing moods. This can help those struggling with mental health disorders in certain capacities. Cannabis is also known for alleviating anxiety when used in the right context.

Glaucoma puts painful pressure on patients’ eyeballs. Cannabis can reduce some of that pressure, leading to effective pain relief.

Research is constantly being done to look at cannabis’s benefits, as researchers are finding out more and more each year. But how does cannabis work? And how does it get users high?

THC and Cannabis

The main reason you feel “high” after using cannabis is because of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It’s one of the main components of cannabis and is responsible for a lot of effects that cannabis is known for.

Let’s break down what THC is while exploring its effects.

What is THC?

THC is the main psychoactive part of the cannabis plant. It’s known as an effective painkiller because of how it interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Long story short, THC can affect your brain and immune system. This means much of the effects of a “high” come from the work of THC.

How Does THC Get You High?

Say someone is inhaling or smoking cannabis. THC then goes into their lungs and is absorbed into the blood. If you ingest it through an edible, it goes through the liver for similar effects.

Inhalation takes the least amount of time since it’s a straight shot from the longs to the brain. The circulatory system relays the THC to other parts of the body as well.

THC fits snugly into your body’s receptors called endocannabinoids. These receptors are involved in several functions like metabolism, pain, stress, and food intake.

Without getting too much into how synapses and neurons work, let’s just say THC activates certain functions.

THC floods the endocannabinoid systems with signals that neurons didn’t send. This changes the flow of information between neurons and results in a high.

There isn’t conclusive evidence as to how this all works, partly because researching cannabis has always been regulated. However, scientists believe THC plays a big part in getting users high.


Many people often confuse THC and CBD as being one and the same. While they’re both important parts of the cannabis plant umbrella, they’re far from the same thing.

CBD is a psychoactive cannabinoid like THC, but it’s non-intoxicating. That means you won’t get “high” from ingesting CBD.

CBD is used to reduce inflammation and decrease pain. Most people incorporate it to treat nausea, migraines, and other medical conditions. It’s become popular when solid in an oil form, and can even put into food and drinks.

As we discussed, THC is responsible for the euphoria people feel when using cannabis. Unlike CBD, you feel high after taking THC in its many forms.

There are cannabis products that contain both CBD and THC, but there are also ones that contain one and not the other. The dried flowers that people associate with weed and cannabis contain both.

Some strains have more of one compound than the other. Hemp, for example, has more CBD than it does THC.

What is Decarboxylation?

One of the reasons cannabis is so popular is for its intoxicating effects. THC, as we established, helps a lot in this regard.

However, cannabis needs to be treated to make the user feel these therapeutic effects. This is where decarboxylation comes in.

Also known as a “decarb,” decarboxylation refers to things like drying or burning your cannabis. Decarb is crucial for getting any of the euphoric effects of your cannabis strain.

Smoking or vaping cannabis converts THCA compounds into THC, thus getting you high. It’s also crucial for making edibles. You always need to regulate your decarb temperatures to make sure you’re getting the right kind of effects.

Leverage the Science of Cannabis Today

Understanding the science of cannabis, THC, CBD, and other aspects of weed is crucial to using it properly. Leverage this guide to use that knowledge to your advantage.

Looking for more informative articles on cannabis? Check out the rest of our site!





Ben Stern wrote this article on behalf of FreeUp. FreeUp is the fastest-growing freelance marketplace in the US. FreeUp only accepts the top 1% of freelance applicants. Click here to get access to the top freelancers in the world.   





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