Weed is the most popular psychoactive drug used for any and all purposes concerning medicine and recreation. And with that, the most famous description of the main effect of smoking marijuana was named “getting high.” There are several other descriptors used for the sensation as “stoned” or “fried” but the biggest concern I had when I first started smoking was: how and why does marijuana produce this effect?
First, let’s take a look at the chemical makeup of marijuana. The cannabis plant contains over 100 different chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids. The most well-known cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the majority of the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
When you consume marijuana, whether by smoking, vaporizing, or eating it, the THC in the plant enters your bloodstream and travels to your brain. Once it reaches your brain, THC interacts with a network of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, appetite, pain, and sleep. When THC binds to the receptors in this system, it alters their normal functioning and produces a range of effects.
One of the primary effects of THC is the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the brain’s reward system. This release of dopamine creates a feeling of euphoria and pleasure, which is often described as the “high” associated with marijuana use.
THC also affects other parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. This is why many people experience short-term memory impairment and difficulty concentrating when they are high.
Additionally, THC can produce a range of physical effects, such as increased heart rate, dry mouth, and bloodshot eyes. These effects are generally mild and temporary, but can be more pronounced in some individuals.
It’s worth noting that different strains of marijuana can produce different effects, depending on their cannabinoid profile. For example, some strains may have higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD), which is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is believed to have therapeutic properties.
In conclusion, marijuana produces a “high” by interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the brain, leading to the release of dopamine and other changes in brain function. While the effects of marijuana can vary depending on the individual and the strain, the feeling of being high is generally characterized by euphoria, relaxation, and altered perception.