Cannabis Terminology and the Basics

Endocannabinoid System Basics


Endocannabinoid system (ECS): is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, which are endogenous lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors, and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed throughout the mammalian central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating a variety of physiological and cognitive processes including fertility, pregnancy, during pre-and postnatal development, appetitepain-sensationmood, and memory, and in mediating the pharmacological effects of cannabis. The ECS is also involved in mediating some of the physiological and cognitive effects of voluntary physical exercise in humans and other animals, such as contributing to exercise-induced euphoria as well as modulating locomotor activity and motivational salience for rewardsIn humans, the plasma concentration of certain endocannabinoids (i.e., anandamide) have been found to rise during physical activity; since endocannabinoids can effectively penetrate the blood–brain barrier, it has been suggested that anandamide, along with other euphoriant neurochemicals, contributes to the development of exercise-induced euphoria in humans, a state colloquially referred to as a runner’s high

Two primary endocannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1, first cloned in 1990; and CB2, cloned in 1993. CB1 receptors are found predominantly in the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues, and are the main molecular target of the endocannabinoid ligand (binding molecule), anandamide, as well as its mimetic phytocannabinoid, THC. One other main endocannabinoid is 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) which is active at both cannabinoid receptors, along with its own mimetic phytocannabinoid, CBD. 2-AG and CBD are involved in the regulation of appetite, immune system functions and pain management.  (




Neurotransmitters: also known as chemical messengers, are endogenous (internal) chemicals that enable neurotransmission (communication between certain cells). They transmit signals across a chemical synapse, such as a neuromuscular junction, from one neuron (nerve cell) to another “target” neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. Neurotransmitters are released from synaptic vesicles in synapses into the synaptic cleft, where they are received by neurotransmitter receptors on the target cells. Many neurotransmitters are synthesized from simple and plentiful precursors such as amino acids, which are readily available from the diet and only require a small number of biosynthetic steps for conversion. Neurotransmitters play a major role in shaping everyday life and functions. Their exact numbers are unknown, but more than 100 chemical messengers have been uniquely identified.
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Cannabinoid Receptors: Cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body, are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetitepain-sensation, mood, and memory.
Cannabinoid receptors are of a class of cell membrane receptors and contain seven transmembrane spanning domains. Cannabinoid receptors are activated by three major groups of ligands: endocannabinoids- produced by the mammillary body; plant cannabinoids – such as cannabidiol, produced by the cannabis plant; and synthetic cannabinoids. All of the endocannabinoids and plant cannabinoids are lipophilic, such as fat soluble compounds.

There are currently two known subtypes of cannabinoid receptors, termed CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain (central nervous system or “CNS”), but also in the lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB2 receptor is expressed mainly in the immune system and in hematopoietic cells.​  )


Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur. Although cannabinoids are considered by some to be addictive drugs, their addictive potential is considerably lower than that of other prescribed agents or substances of abuse. [1]

( [1] PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. PDQ Cannabis and Cannabinoids. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <11/30/2017>. Available at: Accessed <03/15/2018>. [PMID: 26389198])


Cannabinoid: Is one of a class of diverse chemical compounds that acts on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain. Ligands for these receptor proteins include the endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body by animals), the phytocannabinoids (found in cannabis and some other plants), and synthetic cannabinoids (manufactured artificially). The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another major constituent of the plant. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects.

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Endocannabinoid: Substances produced from within the body that activate cannabinoid receptors. After the discovery of the first cannabinoid receptor in 1988, scientists began searching for an endogenous (internal) ligand (a molecule that binds to another (usually larger) molecule) for the receptor.
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Cannabis Plant and Preparation Basics


Decarboxylation: (“Decarbing” or “Decarb”) Is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). Usually, decarboxylation refers to a reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain. ( )

The two main catalysts for decarboxylation to occur are heat and time. Drying and curing cannabis over time will cause a partial decarboxylation to occur. This is why some cannabis flowers also test for a presence of small amounts of THC along with THCA. Smoking and vaporizing will instantaneously decarboxylate cannabinoids due to the extremely high temperatures present, making them instantly available for absorption through inhalation.  (​  )

“Curing” Cannabis: is the process of extracting chlorophyll from your Cannabis buds after they have dried. Chlorophyll is a chemical that plays a key role in photosynthesis and is what makes plants green. With uncured bud, the chlorophyll will overpower its flavor and odor and can be very harsh on the lungs, if smoked or vaped. If you want your bud to be as smooth, enjoyable and medically beneficial as possible, you have to take the time to properly dry and cure it.

Common Cannabis Measurements

1 gram
3.5 grams = 1/8 of an ounce
7 grams = 1/4 ounce
14 grams= 1/2 ounce
28.5 grams = 1 ounce
16 ounces = 1 pound
24 ounces = 1 1/2 pounds

1/4 gram
1/2 gram
1 gram