THC, also known as Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive ingredient found only within the marijuana plant. The marijuana plant, or cannabis, contains over 60 individual cannabinoid compounds; however, only THC has a psychoactive effect when ingested. While marijuana is a Schedule I drug in the United States, as of 2010, 14 states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana for users with chronic illnesses.
Marijuana is the only plant in the world with the THC compound. The use of marijuana dates back to 6000 B.C. in China, where the seeds of this plant were used for food. Time Magazine states that marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes since 2737 B.C.; however, every recorded civilization has utilized cannabis for medicinal and other purposes.
Cannabis is able to be grown in almost any type of climate, which has led to one of its many street names, weed. Marijuana plants come in male and female designs. The female marijuana plants bloom flower buds, where resin glands create THC if the flower is not pollinated by male plants. Male marijuana plants are commonly used for hemp, a strong industrial byproduct of the marijuana plant. Marijuana can be grown outdoors as well as in indoor grow houses; however, the potency of THC developed within the plant is directly related to the amount of sunlight the plant receives as well as the soil type and when the flower buds are harvested.
What is THC
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is the main active compound within marijuana and it reacts within the body by binding to cannabinoid receptors located within the brain. Some of the common effects of ingesting marijuana are due to the fact that THC directly interacts with the central nervous system and, when introduced to the brain, releases a neurotransmitter norepinephrine. During this action the brain magnifies thoughts and body sensations, thus releasing adrenaline to create a euphoric experience. Medically, THC is found to promote relaxation, reduce pain and increase appetite in cancer/AIDS patients.
- Cavan Images/Photodisc/Getty Images