Cannabis sativaThe surface of a Cannabis sativa plant, showing glandular cells called trichomes that secrete a resin containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component of cannabis when used as a drug.TED KINSMAN/SCIENCE SOURCE
PARTY PEOPLE, LISTEN up: You need to know your limits. In fact, non-party people, too. But how can you, when there’s almost no way of knowing if that cannabis-infused lollipop is going to get you bong-rip high, or just puff-on-a-jay lifted? For that matter, what is in this joint, because right now you are feeling way more lit than usual.
To wit, no reliable method exists to tell you exactly how high that joint, edible, dab, or bong rip will get you. (Actually, I’m pretty confident that a bong rip is going to get you incredibly high.) This is important, because marijuana is going mainstream. Many of its new customers aren’t lifelong stoners, and want an experience similar to, say, a Budweiser: a predictably intoxicating experience. Problem is, cannabis is one hell of a puzzling drug. Its many compounds can play with your body’s chemistry in ways that scientists are just beginning to understand. But the industry is getting closer to a reliable weed label, and in the meantime learning some great science.
“Cannabis is the most phytochemically complex plant on the planet,” says Jeremy Plumb, chemist and owner of Portland-based Newcleus Nursery and the dispensary Farma. Certainly more complex than alcohol. Weed’s most famous ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It gets you high. It can also make you anxious. Cannabidiol is the yin to THC’s yang. It’s non-psychoactive, and Plumb says it levels out THC’s high and attenuates anxiety.