Medicine is supposed to be a “controlled” substance – one where in a certain dosage can provide some relief of certain symptoms in most patients safely with few side effects.
However, the reality of it is that marijuana is probably one of the least controllable substances available for medicinal purposes. Physicians can try to prescribe a certain amount that will provide certain benefit, but in fact an individual’s genetic blue print determines the effect that marijuana will have on his or her body – which makes it actually similar to a couple of prominent mainstream drugs currently not in common medical use.
The 2 Cannabis Plants
When we are talking abut marijuana, or cannabis, we are not talking about a singular species of plant. Marijuana can come from either of two different plants, cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. And the differences don’t stop with their species. About the only things they have in common are their genus and the presence of THC. More on that in a minute.
Cannabis sativa is a plant that features very thin, slender leaves and thin stems, while cannabis indica is thicker and more stocky s a bush, with thick leaves and stems.
The 2 Highs
Yes, we said two, as in different. Though marijuana is technically the same drug, no matter the plant from which it originates, apparently the origin plant presents two different “highs” when ingested or smoked.
For example, cannabis sativa is known to provide an energetic, euphoric high, while cannabis indica seems to provide a more subdued, sedative high – known as a “body buzz,” which may make that plant better as a pain reliever due to the sedative properties.
Both highs can be achieved either by smoking or eating the drug (as in brownies). When smoked, marijuana can take effect in minutes, while eating the cannabis can take up to an hour to take effect, but the effect may last much longer than smoking.
Same Drug, Different Highs?
It is well known that THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that cases the “high” or the “buzz” from whichever plant is used in marijuana. But if the same drug comes from both plants, how come there are two different highs that come from it?
Frankly, there is not enough research done yet to find out the actual cause, but a scientific hypothesis exists that there are different chemical compounds in each plant that react to the THC to cause the different sensations. In the scince parlance, this is called an “entourage effect” -where the secondary “actors” affect the performance of the primary actor – in this case, the THC.
The bottom line here is that marijuana has too many variables in it to be a truly controllable or controlled substance, like other prescription drugs on the market. The same prescription given to 10 different people can have as many as 10 different effects, and it’s not guaranteed that they will all have the effect that the prescription was intended to provide (namely, pain relief).
In that way, marijuana is equivalent in some degree to caffeine or alcohol, which are two other drugs that are difficult to predict because of how a human body is constructed.