Δ-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol is the primary active ingredient in marijuana. It is an aromatic terpenoid, whose aromatic rings make it comparatively insoluble in water, but has better solubility in alcohols and lipids. The hypothesized reason for production of THC in the plant is as a defense mechanism against insects; the effect of THC on insect nervous systems is that of a paralytic, but the mechanisms are still unknown.
Effects on the Human Body
Tetrahydrocannabinol has been observed to cause detrimental effects on cognition, and reasoning. THC functions by overwhelming the body's naturally-occurring Endocannabinoid System, acting as a partial agonist and leading to the "high" pot-smokers seek, along with several other negative effects. Negative effects on memory have also been observed, along with an increased likelihood of developing psychosis from chronic exposure. Normally, THC bypasses the liver by being smoked from marijuana. However, in the case of "edible" forms, the liver converts Δ-9 THC into Hydroxy-11 THC, a more psychoactive form that is often described as a "bad high", particularly from those with little tolerance to THC in general. Because of the liver's conversion takes more time compared to the instant introduction into the bloodstream from smoking marijuana, inexperienced users of edibles have been known to experience the adverse affects much more seriously than anticipated. From colloquial sources, THC have been claimed to be a "cure-all", with largely unproven claims of reducing pain and nausea in cancer patients, and according to some activist sources, even "cure" cancer entirely. These claims are largely refuted by the medical establishment.
- Endocannabinoids, Scholastic's Heads Up