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A Brief History of Medical Marijuana
In 1990, the cannabinoid receptor was first discovered in the human brain and by 1992 the entire endocannabinoid system had been uncovered. With this, science glimpsed the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana for the first time.
The endocannabinoid system is a central regulatory system that affects a wide range of biological processes. It consists of a group of molecules known as cannabinoids as well as the cannabinoid receptors that they bind to.
Although marijuana is a source of over 60 cannabinoids (including THC and CBD), the human body produces a number of cannabinoids as well.
Decades of scientific research on the endocannabinoid system has resulted in the discovery of two types of cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. These receptors are found in various parts of the body, but are most prominent in the brain and immune system.
Cannabinoid receptors act as binding sites for endogenous cannabinoids as well as cannabinoids found in marijuana. When cannabinoids bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors, they act to change the way the body functions.
Cannabinoid receptors continue to be identified in unique parts of the body as research on the endocannabinoid system.
According to Harm Reduction Journal’s report titled “Harm Reduction – The Cannabis Paradox”, cannabinoids
“regulate intercellular communication, especially in the immune and nervous systems,” as well as “modulate and coordinate tissues, organ and body systems (including cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, excretory, immune… and respiratory systems).”
Medical Marijuana is one of our more useful medicines, as The Institute of Medicine points out in their book, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base (1999)
Cannabinoids likely have a natural role in pain modulation, control of movement, and memory… “The combination of cannabinoid drug effects (anxiety reduction, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction, and pain relief) suggests that cannabinoids would be moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.”
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