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Cannabis Industry Blossoms as Science Uncovers New Benefits

Our scientific understanding around cannabis is beginning to mature and play a central role in the industry's eminent boom. Cannabis' once slow march toward nationwide legalization is beginning to pick up pace as voters and lawmakers at the state level chip away bit by bit at the federal prohibition.

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As legalization begins to take hold, American society is developing a more sophisticated understanding concerning the potential medical applications for cannabis.

Contrary to what many would assume, this useful information has less to do with the fact that customers have greater access to cannabis and more to do with regulations making it easier for researchers to study this mysterious and unassumingly complex plant.

Voters in states are pushing to advance legalization, helping the science behind cannabis to climb out of the dark ages.

To comprehend how our understanding of cannabis has changed, let's go over some basic information and recent discoveries regarding the chemical compounds that make up this often misunderstood and overlooked plant.

What are the effects of cannabis-derived compounds like THC and CBD?

THC and CBD are cannabinoids, meaning they bind to receptors in the body's endocannabinoid system. This system is an integral part of both the central and peripheral nervous systems. Despite the critical role this system appears to play in regulating physical and psychological functionality, it's still under preliminary research.

While our understanding of this system is currently limited, evidence shows it appears to be responsible for regulating immune function and mood. There are still many discoveries yet to be made with regard to its potential influence on cognitive processes related to fertility, pregnancy, memory, and more.

When an individual smokes THC or consumes a THC product into the lungs as a vapor, the substance skips the liver and goes straight into the bloodstream. This makes its effects more immediate, but it also comparatively reduces THC's effect on the endocannabinoid system.

If you eat an edible, the THC goes directly to the liver, where it's metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC. This metabolite has more potency than THC, linking with five times the amount of CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, consuming 10 milligrams of edible THC is equivalent to inhaling 50 milligrams. This is why it's so easy to overdo it when it comes to edibles, and it's an important distinction between modes of ingestion for consumers to understand.

Does the context in which a person consumes a cannabis-based product impact its effects?

Adding to this complexity, the endocannabinoid system doesn't appear to stay in a static state throughout any given day. The effects of cannabis products might vary depending on your mood, whether you've eaten and what time of day you consume them.

Is there more yet to be learned about the effects of CBD?

While THC binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD has a much more complex relationship with the endocannabinoid system. The scientific literature to date identifies over 65 molecular targets of CBD and at least 14 distinct mechanisms of action CBD has on the central nervous system, making its effects an intricate puzzle of activity yet to be fully pieced together.

Could you describe the interplay between THC and CBD when they are consumed together?

Interestingly, CBD has been shown to modulate the psychoactive effects of THC, tempering unwelcome effects such as paranoia and anxiety some may experience from being too high. This happens because CBD blocks—rather than stimulates—CB1 receptors from being filled by THC.

For this reason, consuming both compounds simultaneously could temper the sometimes overwhelming effects THC can have on individuals, reducing the likelihood of stress-inducing experiences and making recreational and medical applications safer.

Adie Wilson-Poe, a Washington University researcher in St. Louis has been studying pain-management applications for cannabis for over three years. Thanks to hard data, she's been able to shed light on anecdotal reports, stating, "We specifically see that CBD protects against the paranoia and anxiety and the racing heart that THC produces." Still, the subtle effects CBD has on the endocannabinoid system makes it likely that this effect can be attributed to more than just CBD's role in blocking CB1 receptors.

What about the rest of the cannabis plant? Are there other compounds and applications yet to be fully understood?

To further expand one's understanding of the complexities associated with cannabis, you have to look at the whole flower. As Wilson-Poe puts it, "If you were to vaporize a whole flower, you'd be consuming potentially a couple dozen anti-inflammatory molecules at once. In this sense, I think of the whole-plant cannabis as like a multivitamin for inflammation."

All these interactions between cannabis compounds and the human body create synergistic effects that could have far-reaching health implications and completely shift our perspectives on potential cannabis applications.

While CBD may help to modulate the sometimes overwhelming psychological effects of THC, it also has been shown to reduce or enhance some of the medical benefits of THC.

For instance, recent studies have shown that the simultaneous application of THC and CBD to cancer cells is more effective at inhibiting and even outright killing cancer cells, versus using THC alone.

THC has also been proven to effectively treat glaucoma. However, those effects are inhibited if CBD is simultaneously introduced into the body. While this may lead you to think that CBD should simply be discarded as a potential treatment for glaucoma, research shows that CBD, by itself, can have a beneficial effect in glaucoma treatment as well.

What do all these new findings mean for our culture and the cannabis industry?

Obviously, these counterintuitive complexities are confusing and highlight the importance of conducting more research to uncover more knowledge and, thus, understanding.

Though we may not recognize it at first, we've all seen this movie before...

To start off, something is deemed taboo within our society. As a result, most people within mainstream culture and even counterculture are frequently distanced from a deeper understanding and authoritative information concerning that element, which has been identified as taboo.

In this case, the answer to our situation is clear: legalization and easier access to cannabis products within a transparent, well-regulated, and safety-conscious industry.

Alt Thirty Six and its partners have created a movement to make this vision a near-term reality, welcoming regulators and the financial industry to collaborate with them in creating the most efficient, swift, and easy-to-use payment solutions.

Standing at the forefront of this movement isn't big businesses, large financial institutions, or regulatory bodies. It's the customers who use Alt Thirty Six to make purchases, demonstrating that technology can be used to evolve our culture, our economy, and our scientific understanding. Join the movement. Ask your local dispensary to offer Alt Thirty Six payment options.

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