Subjects experience psychological and physiological effects after ingesting cannabis because cannabinoids, THC in particular, interact with a complex and dense receptor system within the body (Earleywine, 2002). The CB1 receptors, first identified in the late 1980s, reside predominantly in the nervous system and their stimulation is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive and behavioral effects, among other functions. The CB2 receptors, identified in the early 1990s, reside primarily in the immune system and are involved in the moderation of a number of biological functions, including inflammation and pain response. Naturally occurring chemicals in human body (so-called endocannabinoids), which possess a similar molecular structure to herbal cannabinoids, act as neuromodulators and cytokine modulators within this receptor system to regulate many of the body’s essential physiological functions such as appetite, blood pressure, reproduction, bone growth, tumor modulation, immunity, inflammation, pain sensation, memory, and muscle tone, among others. It is theorized that a properly functioning endogenous cannabinoid receptor system is necessary for good health (Melamede, 2005) and that certain disease types may be the result of deficiencies within this system (Russo, 2008).
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