Due to almost a century of misinformation about Cannabis, the distinction between Cannabis and its two primary species — hemp and. Hemp, or industrial hemp typically found in the northern hemisphere, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial. Are hemp and marijuana the same? Deconstructing Short Answer: No, they are just both part of the Cannabis family . Difference explained in official terms.
Despite the links made between its use and the development of mental health problems, it is also known that not everyone who uses it is affected adversely in the same way. In this article we will provide an overview of the different effects of the two main compounds of the plant, as well as its effects upon different sections of the population. Before presenting the available evidence in the literature on the reasons for the varying effects of cannabis in different individuals, we will first review the present knowledge on the biochemistry of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid system.
Even though cannabis has been used and cultivated by mankind for at least years [ Li, ] our current knowledge on its pharmacological properties is based on studies which have taken place only since the end of the nineteenth century.
The very first compound isolated in pure form from the plant was cannabinol [ Wood, ]. It was initially wrongly assumed to be the main active compound of the plant responsible for its psychoactive effects [ Mechoulam and Hanus, ]. The following year in , Gaoni and Mechoulam isolated the main active compound, deltatetrahydrocannabinol dTHC Figure 1 [ Gaoni and Mechoulam, ].
Another cornerstone in cannabinoid research was the identification of the specific binding sites of dTHC in the brain [ Devane et al. Shortly after, a second receptor, CB2R, was discovered [ Munro et al. Around the same time, the existence of the endocannabinoid system was confirmed by Devane and colleagues following the extraction of a molecule, an ethanolamine of arachidonic acid AEA , which bound to these receptors [ Devane et al. Mechoulam and colleagues isolated the second endocannabinoid neurotransmitter, 2-arachidonylglycerol 2-AG , 3 years later [ Mechoulam et al.
Research in more recent years has shown that dTHC, as a partial agonist, resembles anandamide in its CB1 affinity, albeit with less efficacy than anandamide, whilst displaying even lower efficacy at CB2Rs than at CB1Rs in vitro [ Pertwee, ].
CB1Rs are mainly in the brain, particularly in the substantia nigra, the basal ganglia, limbic system, hippocampus and cerebellum, but are also expressed in the peripheral nervous system, liver, thyroid, uterus, bones and testicular tissue [ Russo and Guy, ; Pagotto et al. CB2Rs are mostly expressed in immune cells, spleen and the gastrointestinal system, and to some extent in the brain and peripheral nervous system [ Izzo, ; Pertwee, ].
Interestingly, both CB1 and CB2Rs are also found in human placenta and have been shown to play a role in regulating serotonin transporter activity [ Kenney et al. Indeed further research has revealed that the endocannabinoid system also plays a significant role in various aspects of human reproduction [ Taylor et al.
In the brain, CB1Rs are found at the terminals of central and peripheral neurons, where they mostly mediate inhibitory action on ongoing release of a number of excitatory and inhibitory dopaminergic, gamma-aminobutyric acid GABA , glutamatergic, serotoninergic, noradrenalin and acetylcholine neurotransmitter systems Figure 1. Because of the involvement of these systems they affect functions such as cognition, memory, motor movements and pain perception [ Howlett et al.
The release of endocannabinoids, such as AEA and 2-AG, from the postsynaptic sites to the synaptic cleft occur in response to elevation of intracellular calcium and they then act as retrograde neurotransmitters on presynaptically located CB1Rs to maintain homeostasis and prevent the excessive neuronal activity [ Howlett et al.
They are then rapidly removed from the extracellular space by cannabinoid transporters, often referred to as anandamide membrane transporters, which facilitate their breakdown by internalizing the molecule and allowing access to fatty acid amide hydrolase [ Pertwee, ].
Despite its significance in the endocannabinoid system, little is known about the cannabinoid transporters. When cannabis is used, dTHC as a partial agonist binds to CB1R and acts in a less selective manner in inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters normally modulated by endocannabinoids such as AEA and 2-AG. It has been putatively suggested that it may also increase the release of dopamine, glutamate and acetylcholine in certain brain regions, possibly by inhibiting the release of an inhibitory neurotransmitter like GABA onto dopamine, glutamate or acetylcholine-releasing neurons [ Bhattacharyya et al.
Endocannabinoids are removed from the extracellular space by cannabinoid transporters. However, the functionalities of the CB1Rs are not always straightforward due to complex interactions with the other neurotransmitter systems.
GPCRs sense an external molecule outside the nerve cell and by contact with the molecule can signal transduction pathways, which ultimately lead to cellular responses. External ligands such as dTHC, various synthetic compounds and endocannabinoids such as anandamide can activate these receptors [ Pertwee et al. Interestingly some alkylamides from the Echinacea plant can also bind to the CB2Rs even more strongly than the endogenous cannabinoids [ Raduner et al. Normally GPCRs are linked together to form a receptor complex.
However, the signalling effects can be complex due to CB1Rs forming heteromers, which can be defined as having different parts such as subunits, with two or more other GPCRs, particularly if they are densely expressed in the same neuron. For instance, a CB1R can form a heteromer with dopamine D2 receptor, or in another instance it can also form a heteromer with two other receptors such as dopamine D2 and adenosine A2A [ Navarro et al. Interestingly, as a result, ligand bindings can produce unexpected pharmacological effects.
For instance, in a heteromer complex, not only the antagonist of CB1R but also the other receptor antagonist can block the inhibitory effect of CB1R agonist. This has been demonstrated by Marcellino and colleagues when the CB1R antagonist rimonabant and the specific A2AR antagonist MSX-3 blocked the inhibitory effect of CB1 agonist on D2-like receptor agonist induced hyperlocomotion in rats [ Marcellino et al. Receptor heteromers provide better understanding of how these different neurotransmitter systems interact with each other.
The authors propose that it is likely that functional CB1—A2A—D2 receptor heteromers can be found in the dendritic spines of GABAergic enkephalinergic neurons, where they are highly coexpressed, and their analysis provides new information on the role of endocannabinoids in striatal function, which can be considered as retrograde signals that inhibit neurotransmitter release. Further evidence for the existence of D2 and CB1Rs in ventral striatum is provided by electron microscopy analysis, which confirms the relevance to the rewarding and euphoric, as well as motor effects produced by cannabis, by enhancing dopamine levels particularly in the nucleus accumbens [ Pickel et al.
The authors point out that there is a bidirectional cross antagonism which involves the antagonists of either receptor to block the other. In more recent years, three other novel receptor candidates, GPR18, GPR19 and GPR55, have been discovered, as well as non-CB1Rs and non-CB2Rs, but knowledge on these systems is incomplete and the discussion on whether or not they meet the criteria to qualify as receptors or channels is ongoing [ Mackie and Stella, ; Pertwee et al. The involvement of the particular neural regions and the neurotransmitter systems here is significant due to the fact that the very same brain areas and neurotransmitter systems are also implicated in psychoses, particularly in schizophrenia [ van Os and Kapur, ; Smieskova et al.
Available evidence indicates that we do not yet have a complete understanding of the varied functions of the endocannabinoid system, which is widely distributed both in the brain and in the peripheral system and most glands and organs in the body.
Even though our knowledge on the role of the endocannabinoid system is still evolving, the available evidence indicates that this system has multiple regulatory roles in neuronal, vascular, metabolic, immune and reproductory systems. As mentioned previously, the on-demand regulatory role on other neurotransmitter systems clearly affect functions such as cognition, memory, motor movements and pain perception [ Howlett et al.
The cannabis plant has two main subspecies, Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa , and they can be differentiated by their different physical characteristics. Indica -dominant strains are short plants with broad, dark green leaves and have higher cannabidiol content than the sativa plants in which THC content is higher.
Sativa- dominant strains are usually taller and have thin leaves with a pale green colour. Due to its higher THC content, C. It is a complex plant with about chemical entities, of which more than 60 are cannabinoid compounds [ Dewey, ]. In the plant, cannabinoids are synthesized and accumulated as cannabinoid acids, but when the herbal product is dried, stored and heated, the acids decarboxylize gradually into their proper forms, such as CBD or dTHC [ De Meijer et al.
Originally it was thought that CBD was the metabolic parent to dTHC, but it was later found that its biosynthesis occurs according to a genetically determined ratio [ Russo and Guy, ]. Even though the chemical structures of all four compounds are similar, their pharmacological effects can be very different. The most researched compounds of the plant are dTHC and CBD and therefore we will mainly focus on these two compounds and their differences.
Natural compounds of the cannabis plant are also referred to as phytocannabinoids of which dTHC is the main psychoactive ingredient and has been widely researched both in animals and humans. It characteristically produces, in a dose-dependent manner, hypoactivity, hypothermia, spatial and verbal short-term memory impairment [Hayakawa et al.
However, the second major compound, CBD, does not affect locomotor activity, body temperature or memory on its own. The available research indicates that the main two compounds, dTHC and CBD, whilst having similar effects in certain domains, also have almost opposite effects to one another in other aspects [ Carlini et al. Table 1 summarizes the varying effects of these two compounds. Effects of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, adapted and updated from Russo and Guy . In fact the different and opposing effects of the main two compounds of the plant were noticed in some early studies.
In a double-blind study with 40 healthy volunteers, Karniol and colleagues orally administered dTHC and CBD and the mixtures of the two together, whilst pulse rate, time production tasks and psychological reactions were measured [ Karniol et al.
Whilst dTHC alone increased pulse rate, disturbed time tasks and induced strong psychological reactions in the subjects, CBD alone provoked no such effects. CBD also decreased the anxiety component of dTHC effects in such a way that the subjects reported more pleasurable effects. Most recently there have been a number of drug challenge studies with sound methodologies examining the effects of both of these compounds. Our group carried out a number of double-blind, pseudo-randomized studies on healthy volunteers who had previous minimal exposure to cannabis.
All participants were administered 10 mg of dTHC, mg of CBD and placebo flour in three different functional magnetic resonance imaging sessions while performing a response inhibition task, a verbal memory task, an emotional task viewing fearful faces and an auditory and visual sensory processing task. The overall concluding results showed that dTHC and CBD had different behavioural effects and also, at times, opposing brain activation in various regions [ Borgwardt et al.
DTHC caused transient psychotic symptoms and increased the levels of anxiety, intoxication and sedation, whilst CBD had no significant effect on behaviour or these parameters.
In relation to the imaging data, during the response inhibition task, relative to placebo, dTHC attenuated the engagement of brain regions that normally mediate response inhibition, whilst CBD modulated activity in regions not implicated with this task [ Borgwardt et al. During the verbal learning and retrieval of word pair tasks, dTHC modulated activity in mediotemporal and ventrostriatal regions, whilst CBD had no such effect [ Bhattacharyya et al. During an emotional processing task dTHC and CBD had clearly distinct effects on the neural, electrodermal and symptomatic response to fearful faces [ Fusar-Poli et al.
Our results suggest that the effects of CBD on activation in limbic and paralimbic regions may contribute to its ability to reduce autonomic arousal and subjective anxiety, whereas the anxiogenic effects of dTHC may be related to effects in other brain regions. During the auditory task, again these two compounds had opposite effects in the superior temporal cortex when subjects listened to speech and in the occipital cortex during visual processing [ Winton-Brown et al.
Our group also assessed whether pretreatment with CBD could prevent the acute psychotic symptoms induced by dTHC when six healthy volunteers were administered dTHC intravenously on two occasions, after placebo or CBD pretreatment [ Bhattacharyya et al.
This means it is highly accurate and does not require the addition of a mathematical step or assumptions about the concentrations of the very thing that it is separating. Aside from not decarboxylating the sample, another advantage to using HPLC is speed. Due to the pressure exerted on the mobile phase, HPLC also produces the fastest results. Its disadvantages include that it can cause coelution, in which two compounds with similar structure and polarities exit the HPLC device at the same time.
This makes measuring the relative quantities of the respective compounds difficult or even impossible. Fortunately, coelution of cannabinoids is rare. This can be done by using several different devices, the most common of which are a flame ionization detector, an ultraviolet detector, and a mass spectrometer.
FID operates by collecting and measuring the amount of analyte ie, the substance being measured in a gas stream. The fact that it operates in the context of a vapor makes it particularly useful for GC; however, for this reason it is not used with HPLC, which does not emit a gas. This is its primary disadvantage for use with hemp. Additionally, of all of the detection and measuring methods described in this article, it is the least specific.
As an aside, it is also the detection method most utilized by the DEA. This detection device operates on the principal that chemicals absorb UV light at specific wavelengths. MS detects various molecules based on their distinctive mass and mass fragmentation pattern. It does this in three stages. The first stage, ionization, vaporizes molecules in a sample and then bombards them with an electron beam, which causes them to become charged particles ie, ions.
The ions are then sorted by two processes, acceleration and deflection, and measured. MS only measures the mass of ions. Neutral molecules are not detected.
The result is a spectrum. A high quality mass spectrometer detects and measures a fragmentation of each molecule. This removes much uncertainty and generates a very accurate result.
Testing protocols may seem abstract. Teasing out their differences can be tedious. This can translate to having a profitable crop or a total loss. The reason for the prevalence of this testing protocol is unknown.
However, the same protocol is inappropriate and unreliable for hemp. Additionally, most hemp plants are not destined to be heated ie, by smoking, vaping, or cooking in a recipe. The THC-A molecules in these plants will never be decarboxylated.
As the hemp industry continues to consolidate standards it must promote and adopt reliable testing methods. Special thanks and acknowledgement. I am indebted to my friends, Dr. Volker Bornemann of Avazyme Laboratories, for their invaluable information and insights that I obtained in conversations and email exchanges over the past several months. Horizons serves all genders. Dinner of Champions serves up lessons. Engberg sets record for Carthage track Prep basketball roundup: More GO Kenosha News.
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Hemp Testing 101: Analytical Testing Protocols Explained and Evaluated
4 days ago Hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant, but the similarities end there. Here's how hemp and marijuana differ, from. An evaluation of the analytical testing methods used in the hemp industry. CBD is extracted and separated from specific varieties of cannabis, often known related to Cannabidiol, so we wanted to take the time to explain them to you.