Submitted by a visitor:
What’s the body’s cannabinoid system, and if the body has it’s own cannabinoid receptors, how can the government regulate against cannabis?
Our body has its own cannabinoid system called the “endocannabinoid system” (which combines the terms “endogenous” and “cannabinoid”). This systems is comprised of signaling chemicals, called neurotransmitters, and receptors to which these chemicals bind. There are two main signaling chemicals called 2-AG and anandamide that are produced by certain cells in your body. These “endocannabinoids” activate the cannabinoid receptors type I and II, which you may have seen as CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are the main ones found in the brain, but the number of CB2 receptors increase after injury or in disease and play an important role in inflammation.
This endocannabinoid system is an important component of brain and body function. It turns out, however, that the chemicals found in cannabis (like THC) can also activate CB1 and CB2 receptors. So THC essentially acts on the system that’s already in place. Other drugs of abuse do the same thing. For instance, alcohol acts like the brain’s inhibitory chemical called GABA, cocaine acts on the brain’s dopamine system, and heroin mimics the brain’s endogenous opioid chemicals. The government can regulate cannabis because it has, what it considers to be, “abuse potential”. Drugs that can be “abused” are regulated by the DEA under the Controlled Substance Act (of course, alcohol and nicotine have a free pass because they’ve been “ingrained” in our culture for so long… oh and they have a more powerful lobby).