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Cannabis and Euphoria

Overview


Answer A: After smoking a joint - or eating a brownie - our good buddy, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC), does his magic. Once THC hits the bloodstream, it ignites a euphoric body buzz that consumes you with feelings of tranquility, well-being and (sometimes) an uncontrollable case of the giggles.

Answer B: It's all about dopamine! That's why they called it "dope." Dopamine is tied to the reward circuitry in our brain. When you consume cannabis, it sends a signal to your brain to produce more dopamine, which in turn makes you feel good!

The first answer is accurate, but is only a partial explanation. THC is the primary psychoactive chemical that triggers the effects, but there's more to it. The second answer, it turns out, is less fact, and more fiction.

No doubt, if there were ever a neurotransmitter that was a celebrity, it would be dopamine! Few molecules have been associated with pleasure more than dopamine. In the media, it's been characterized as the bad boy of molecules; the Kim Kardashian of compounds; the molecule your mother warned you about! Supposedly all drugs (and many activities) share dopamine as the unifying underlying factor that explains their appeal - and, why people want to repeat the behavior.

There may be something to be said about this explanation when it comes to stimulants, which in fact, do cause your brain to produce a crazy amount of dopamine. But, when it comes to cannabis, the explanation doesn't hold up to further scrutiny. There's little evidence to suggest ingesting cannabis causes your brain to produce an appreciable amount of dopamine - at least in humans. Rats, yes. Humans, not so much. Researchers at King's College London reviewed every published study on humans, and concluded: “In man, there is as yet little direct evidence to suggest that cannabis use affects acute striatal dopamine release or affects chronic dopamine receptor status in healthy human volunteers."

(On a side note, the link between dopamine and the slang term, "dope", is purely coincidental.)  

Meet Man's "Bliss Molecule," Anandamide

Meet, anandamide. In the early 1990s, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam (the man who discovered THC) and his team (including Czech analytical chemist Lumír Ondřej Hanuš and American molecular pharmacologist, William Anthony Devane) discovered a neurotransmitter called anandamide. Anandamide is a naturally occurring version of THC that can produce a heightened sense of joy and happiness (and a lot more); it's been described as the “bliss molecule." In fact, the term, anandamide, comes from the Sanskrit word “ananda," which means "joy" or "bliss."

Your body naturally produces anandamide. Likewise, eating chocolate, doing yoga and jogging, have all been found to stimulate anandamide production. You've heard of the "runner's high?" It's anandamide (not endorphins). So, if our body naturally produces anandamide, why aren't we always "high?" Anandamide breaks down in the body quickly, hence, why it doesn't create a perpetual state of bliss. And, likely why chocolate or running, doesn't produce as intense of a high as cannabis.

Essentially, THC is the mimetic twin of anandamide, meaning it acts a lot like anandamide. Because they share similar properties, they behave in similar ways. When you smoke cannabis, Delta-9-THC binds to your CB1 receptors, activating the psychoactive effects. You'll usually feel the effects in a few seconds, peaking in about 30 minutes, and tapering off within a few hours.

When you consume an edible, the effects can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. However, when Delta-9-THC travels through the stomach to the liver, it is converted into 11-Hydroxy-THC - which is actually much more psychoactive than Delta-9-THC. This explains why edibles - despite less bioavailability - can be more potent and the effects last longer; and, why an edible containing 10mg of THC can produce a high similar to smoking a joint containing much higher amounts of THC. There are some pre-rolls advertising 500mg - even 750mg of THC. If you ate that much THC, unless you have a ridiculously high tolerance, you'd be couch-locked until the next installment of "Harold & Kumar" comes out!

Circling back around to the anandamide and THC connection, author Terry Necco who wrote the seminal book, "Marijuana and Sex: A Classic Combination," explains it in a nutshell:

"Just as our bodies contain pleasure systems which reward us for sex; our brains contain neurocellular circuitry which can only be activated by substances with THC's molecular structure. This makes the marijuana high a unique constellation of feelings, and there are only two sources for the substances which activate THC's very own neuroreceptor. Our brain is one source: it generates a neurochemical very similar to THC, called anandamide...The only other source for this bliss-producing substance is the cannabis plant."



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Wikileaf fan
6:10, February 26, 2017
I can\'t consume! I am a veteran and I receive treatment from the Lexington, KY Veterans Administration Medical Center and I take a narcotic for stress related problems and I am required to undergo drug screening on a regular basis. Being disabled from a stroke and not able to have a full time job, I rely on Social Security for living and funds are tight so the VA is my only option for medical treatment at the moment. Since Kentucky is still in the stone age when it comes to Medical and Recreational Cannabis use, I accept my unfortunate situation at this time. I follow NORML, KY4MM, DCMJ, Toke Signals with Steve Elliot and a vast array of other e-letters from many respectable organizations that keep me in the loop so to speak.... kind of eases the sting of not being able to partake. I have a serious case of cottonmouth all the sudden... I wonder why... LOL! I am also sending Congressman Andy Barr regular feeds from NORML when they shoot me email and I add on my 2 cents worth near the end. He is the 6th District of Kentucky Congressman and I always get an automatic canned reply to my emails I send him but I am still waiting on a more personal message from him or his staff rep. AA vacation would be a wonderful thing but the second part of the adventure I would have to sly from unless their were options involved... ya know. It sounds awesome... someone is going to be happy campers, thanks for making my day! Sincerely, Jim Agee
Wikileaf fan
3:47, February 14, 2017
There\'s a couple reasons I smoke, I smoke because it helps me eat and sleep and when I get an anxiety attack the cannabis kicks it rite away!!! I can truly say for me it is cannabis and my dog that keeps me positive and focused... I no people that drink and I\'d rather be happy and chill then sloppy drunk
Wikileaf fan
6:52, February 12, 2017
On my 26 birthday March 20 2015 I had a pulmonary embolism something that should of ended my whole exsitance, I was so terrified for months after my experience I was diagnosed with PTSD from it doctors wanted me on meds and I chose marijuana instead after two yrs I am able to live my life fullest and happy knowing I am OK and I can\'t breath with out knowing I\'m dying from meds. Pot saved my life. Even after my husband left me this yr I still am able to do what I can for my children and stay calm and do my best knowing that at night I\'ll be able to stop and relax from my stressful day the natural way.. I am now ommp
Wikileaf fan
10:51, February 06, 2017
I have suffered depression for as long as I can remember. So I basically smoke sativa for a head high and it keep me happy. It really makes me feel like myself again.
Wikileaf fan
12:13, February 05, 2017
I choose to consume in order to make it from one day to the next more comfortably. Since being diagnosed with stage 2B testicular cancer i have to constantly struggle with nausea and headaches. It also helps with the pain in my back due to the mass that was removed. From CBD to THC I consume to help stay healthy and happy!
Wikileaf fan
7:40, January 29, 2017
I choose to consume cause it makes me happy and relaxed
Wikileaf fan
5:55, January 27, 2017
Too be happy 24/7 7days a week
Wikileaf fan
2:23, January 26, 2017
Because I was born blind and with osteoporosis, assuring I would have nothing close to the kind of life everyone I knew would end up living, which often depressed me. Because I grew up in an unhealthy home environment and suffer from both depression and anxiety. Because the love of my life died days before her 24th birthday, and she loved Cannabis. Because I love how happy and carefree it makes me feel, like when I spent time with her. Because...I\'ve always dreamed of flying!
Wikileaf fan
8:06, January 15, 2017
I consume cannabis because I suffer from chronic pain due to a motor vehicle accident. It helps make the pain manageable and get\'s me through the day. Without cannabis I would be a different person, so happy to have it in my life!
Wikileaf fan
2:15, December 02, 2016
I consume cuz its a way of life i also support the med uses as well as the hemp uses always have but the reason i consume is because not only the high but the focus i gain . i could say i use for alot of reasons like almost every reason a good reason mainly like i said a way of life . ive been a tweeker a drunk n not so great person cuz of them things mentaly physically n. Since i moved to a legal state simply cuz its legal i can b a normal functioning human no bad trigger the fact its illegal makes u sneak n hella other things that r bad triggers them bad triggers lead to other bad choices . the triggers of it being illegal is the gate way with ne thing not so much what the ne thing is so now i live in a legal state n smoke 24 7 gained all my weight work a hard ass job n can function as a happy very happy person now its a way of life for me ive gained all my confidence back reaching every goal i put infront of me n motivation driven n faith in mankind again all cuz of weed n how its being legal now in more n more places when even elections n shit rigged nice to c we still have a voice it should b heard n dont know what else to say that i can express its a way of life for me
Wikileaf fan
11:01, November 27, 2016
#ichoosetoconsume because #ichoose to be happy and at peace.
Wikileaf fan
4:48, November 21, 2016
I choose to consume because I like the euphoric feeling I het after I smoke. Marijuana lets me feel good without the gross side effects you get from drinking or doing drugs. I also choose to consume because it is the only thing I have found that combats my bipolar disorder. It helps me relax when I am in a spike, and cheers me up when I am in a low, keeping my seratonin levels at par.
Wikileaf fan
1:14, November 17, 2016
I just don\'t feel right or want to do anything without consuming various amounts of marijuana in my daily routine.from the moment I awake to the time I rest, honestly can\'t live without it. Wouldn\'t want to. makes me feel myself, happy, peaceful and helps me enjoy my life. I\'m thankful for god blessing us all with this wonderful different types of weed for every type of persons needs. It\'s a way of life!????
Wikileaf fan
11:41, November 16, 2016
I choose to be pain-free and happy.
Wikileaf fan
10:13, November 16, 2016
I consume because I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the way it makes me feel from the top of my head to the tips of my toes and all the way through to the deepest part of my being!!! I was (since the age of 14), am, and forever will be....in LOVE with Mary Jane!!!!

**Happy Little Side Note**
I honestly believe that I was destined to consume because guess what my birth name is????.....GREEN!!!! HAHAHA
Wikileaf fan
9:54, November 16, 2016
I\'ve always preferred cannabis to any other substance whether it was for pain or to unwind to breaking the ice when meeting a new friend, \"do you smoke?\" introduced me to a lot of my oldest and dearest friends. My girlfriend had asked me to stop when our son was born which I obliged noting that I was one day going to return to, which I have. In its absence I noticed my alcohol consumption had risen (mostly in social settings never at home) and \"date nights\" started involving trips to local watering holes. I was never happy with this and neither was my girlfriend. Since my return to cannabis we find it much more relaxing to just stay at home or return home from a nice dinner out and smoke and relax in each other\'s company not having to deal with the drunks and younger bar crowd.
Wikileaf fan
9:48, November 16, 2016
I choose to be healthy, happy, and human.
Wikileaf fan
8:14, November 16, 2016
I choose because... it makes me happy, creative, hardworking and most of all I can deal with people who don\\\'t consume, a lot easier.
Wikileaf fan
8:33, November 15, 2016
I choose to relax, be calm, & in control. I choose to be able to sleep at night. I choose creativity. I choose to not be anxiety ridden. I choose to not poison my body with government approved drugs. I choose to be happy!
Wikileaf fan
1:03, November 15, 2016
I chose to live happy, healthy, and addiction-free.
Wikileaf fan
5:42, November 13, 2016
I choose to relieve pain.
I choose to forget.
I choose to entertain.
I choose to be happy.
I choose an accepting world.
Wikileaf fan
11:08, November 11, 2016
Well hello my name is Raelynn. I have been consuming cannabis for 23 yrs.. I choose cannabis because it brings out my inner twin.. The relaxed, creative, determined not stressed out side... When I smoke I feel like Im on an island just enjoying life nothing but happy feelings...
Wikileaf fan
8:09, November 11, 2016
The winds are calling,
Calling my name,
Softly yet briskly they whisper “join us\"
and as I listen, I inhale...
Their sweet voices of air speak gently to my wild aching soul,
I exhale.
I breathe out all of the hurt,
All of the sadness,
That weight of the world I\'ve been carrying for so so long
And I open my arms,
Raise my eyes to the sky
And smile,
As these days are the days of our lives,
These are the days that define us.
If your spirit calls for adventure, go forth.
Go forth into the unknown and never look back
If you happen to glance in the backwoods direction,
Be it of grand memories as those are the moments that led you here
To this very second of existence in this existential universe...
On this tiny dot of a tiny planet
surrounded by incredible magic.
Life is what you make of it -
open your beautiful eyes and unveil your hesitations.
Be free, run through the trees,
Sing with the buzzing bees and live,
Live and be happy.

I\'ve only got this one chance-
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