We all know at this point that marijuana effects the brain. And people familiar with marijuana also know that different strains offer different effects when consumed. Cannabis can do everything from treat chronic pain to help calm anxiety to giving you a killer buzz. The question is: how?
The answer is through different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes. These are thechemicals that occur naturally in cannabis. Different strains contain different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes, which gives each strain a unique flavor and effect. Cannabinoids include THC, CBD, and CBN, and cause most of the physical and psychoactive effects of weed. Meanwhile, terpenes are primarily flavor and scent compounds, but they work with cannabinoids to increase their effects.
What Is THC?
THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, but that’s a mouthful – thus the acronym. THC is what causes the psychological effects of weed. It’s shaped just right to connect with certain receptors in the brain, and from there it triggers the high we know and love. THC is the compound that makes marijuana illegal on the federal level – if there is no more than .3% THC in cannabis plant, then it’s legally classified as hemp.
If you want to have better cannabis potency, THC is the compound to encourage. THC is the cannabinoid that causes things like red-eye and dry mouth, as a side-effect of its psychoactivity. However, it also induces things like creativity, laughter, energy or drowsiness, relaxation, and pain relief.
What is CBD?
CBD is the compound that you can find everywhere from high-end boutiques to gas station displays nationwide. Cannabidiol, or CBD, does not cause a high. Instead, it can provide relief from those suffering from conditions such as epilepsy, anxiety, chronic pain, and arthritis.
CBD is legal nationwide, as are plants harvested for CBD. However, many districts are wary of CBD, because of its origin. If you’re in a place where THC is illegal, be cautious if you intend to harvest CBD. Your plants may be confiscated on suspicion and not returned.
What is CBN?
Cannabinol, or CBN, is a cannabinoid that’s only found in trace amounts in most cannabis. Many claim that CBN results in a mellower high than THC, and that it’s a great sedative and appetite stimulator. CBN is what you get if you let your plants rest longer before you harvest them. THC degrades over time into CBN.
This is why weed harvested when it’s younger will have a “buzzier” high, while older or aged weed feels calmer. Some of the THC has literally been converted into CBN. This cuts the cannabis potency with the calmer feeling of CBN.
What are Terpenes?
If you can imagine the scent of pine or oranges, you’re imagining terpenes. These compounds give plants scents and flavors.
Terpenes work with cannabinoids through the entourage effect. If straight THC is consumed in the same dosage as is found in cannabis, it doesn’t affect people the same way. The effects aren’t as strong and take longer to become noticeable. However, when consumed with terpenes naturally found in cannabis, the effects are stronger and varied. For example, Myrcene, a terpene that makes weed smell a little peppery, is often found in calming strains of weed.
Terpenes and cannabinoids are what make weed, well, act like weed. Every strain has a slightly different combination of these chemicals, and that’s what makes cannabis such an experience. These chemicals are what allow users to utilize cannabis for medicinal and recreational purpose. Once you find the strain that you like best, you know you’ve found the chemical combo that works for you.