The Cannabinoids

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There are more than 40 known cannabinoids, but most of these occur in very small amounts and are not important to the high. The cannabinoids found in greatest quantity are THC, THCV, CBN, and CBC. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive (mind-bending) ingredient in marijuana, and accounts for most of the high. Actually THC is found in four or five variations with slight differences in their chemical structure. The variants have similar effects. THC occurs in all varieties of cannabis, in concentrations that vary from trace amounts to about 95 percent of all the cannabinoids present.

THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is closely related to THC, and has been found in some varieties of Asian and African grass. Colombians have not yet been tested for THCV, but some varieties are likely to contain this substance. THCV seems to be much faster in onset and quicker to dissipate than THC, but its psychoactivity appears to be somewhat less than that of THC. THCV is usually associated with extremely potent grass. CBD (cannabidiol) also occurs in almost all cannabis varieties in quantities that range from trace amounts to 95 percent of all the cannabinoids present. In its pure form it is not psychoactive, but does have sedative, analgesic, and antibiotic properties. CBD contributes to the high by interacting with THC to potentiate or antagonize certain qualities of the high. It appears to potentiate the depressant effects and to antagonize the euphoric effects. It also delays the onset of the high, but makes it last considerably longer. Terms such as "knockout," "sleepy," "dreamlike," and "contemplative" are often used to describe the high from grass with sizeable proportions of CBD.

CBN (cannabinol) is produced by the degradation of THC. Fresh samples of marijuana contain very little CBN, but curing, poor storage, or processing can cause much of the THC to be oxidized into CBN. When grass is pressed for shipping, the resin glands that hold and protect THC are sometimes ruptured, exposing the cannabinoids to air and increasing the rate of oxidation. CBN in its pure form has at most 10 percent of the psychoactivity of

THC. CBN seems to potentiate THC's disorienting qualities, making one feel more drugged, dizzy, or generally untogether, but not necessarily higher. With a high proportion of CBN, the high may start well and then feel as if it never reaches its peak, and may not last long. Colombian grasses sometimes contain half as much CBN as THC. CBC (cannabichromine) is inactive in its pure form, but is suspected of potentiating THC. Some tests made for CBD may actually have measured CBC, which is chemically similar.

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