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Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds of cannabis that have an effect on the human body when the plant is consumed. The human body has cannabinoid receptors that help the compound produce many effects, including pain relief.
There are between 85 and 113 known and suspected cannabinoids present in marijuana, each having various effects on the body. Cannabinoids are separated by various subclasses, including cannabigerols (CBG), Cannabichromenes (CBC), Cannabidiols (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), Cannabinol (CBN), and cannabinodiol (CBDL).
There are also other cannabinoids such as cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabitriol (CBT), and other miscellaneous types.
The most commonly known cannabinoid present in cannabis is THC. THC is what produces the psychoactive effect, or the “high”, that makes it popular for recreational use.
Interestingly, when THC is exposed to air, it forms CBN as it oxidizes, which is less psychoactive and reduces the effects of the THC. For this reason, marijuana should be stored in a sealed container.
Other cannabinoids have other effects on humans that are being found to be beneficial for medical use. This includes for pain and nausea relief, mental health relief, and cancer reductions. Because of the relaxing effect of some cannabinoids, marijuana is also used to treat PTSD and other stress-related illnesses.
The difference between the cannabinoids lie with the extent of the psychological effects they produce. For example, CBG, CBC, and CBD are not known to produce any effect at all, whereas THC, CBN, CBDL and some other cannabinoids produce some psychological effects, but to varying degrees and intensities.
The most abundant cannabinoid is probably CBD, which contributes up to 40 per cent of cannabis resin. CBD is believed to have some anti-anxiety effects and lessen the psychoactive effects of THC, so cannabis varieties (strains) that have a greater percentage of CBD lower the intensity of the high.
Conversely, cannabis with less CBD can produce a better high and may actually reduce unwanted effects like anxiety.