Tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, is the chemical responsible for the vast majority of weed’s psychoactive effects. In other words, when your body feels like it’s floating on air and your brain is in another plane of existence, you can thank THC for the experience. It is unquestionably the best-known cannabinoid but even so, there is an extraordinary number of things that the average person doesn’t know about marijuana, and we hope to fill in some of the gaps in your knowledge in this article.
1 – Marijuana Has Been Used for At Least 12,000 Years
Although the oldest known written record relating to weed is ‘only’ around 4,700 years old, its history goes back to at least 10,000 BC according to Springer in ‘Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years.’ This means cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated crops in human history as it was grown at around the same time people began grinding wheat and barley in Iran’s Zagros Mountains.
Archaeologists have found burned cannabis seeds in Siberian burial mounds that are over 5,000 years old. Also, it was widely used in ancient China and Emperor Shen Nung allegedly used weed and wrote about its health benefits. Pot reached the South Asian subcontinent between 2,000 BC and 1,000 BC, and was also brought to the Middle East at around the same time.
Although colonial farmers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia were required to grow hemp in the 16th century, marijuana only really spread throughout the United States in the early 20th century. It was here, after thousands of years of uninterrupted usage, that the likes of Harry Anslinger blackened the name of weed in the 1930s. Ever since, it has been synonymous with a host of lazy stereotypes and remains federally illegal.
2 – There Has Never Been a Weed Overdose
In its lengthy history, the number of people who have overdosed on marijuana remains stuck firmly on zero, and it will stay that way — unless of course someone figures out a way to consume around 1,500 pounds of it in approximately 15 minutes. This is the amount that Judge Francis Young suggested back in 1988 would take to hypothetically overdose on.
In the medical field, each drug receives what’s called an LD-50 rating. This is a figure that outlines at what dosage 50% of test animals receiving it will die as a result of toxicity from the drug. Research has found that for marijuana, the LD-50 is between 1:20000 and 1:40000. This means you would need to smoke between 20,000 and 40,000 average-sized joints within the space of several hours to have a 50% of dying from toxicity of the active compounds. In other words, overdosing on THC is effectively a theoretical impossibility.
Meanwhile, opioids kill more people than breast cancer with over 42,000 deaths from these addictive drugs in 2016 alone. Yet incredibly, these death pills are legal while weed continues to remain illegal on a federal level.
3 – THC Is One of Hundreds of Marijuana Compounds
Identified by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam during his research between 1963-1964, THC is the most famous weed compound. However, as of today, scientists have identified a total of 483 different chemical compounds and at least 65 cannabinoids in marijuana, although other estimates say this figure is over 110. At present, the medicinal effect of the vast majority of cannabis compounds is unknown.
4 – THC Is Non-Psychoactive When Fresh
This is one THC fact that will probably shock everyone! Before drying, THC is actually THCa and is non-psychoactive while in this “fresh” form. There are a growing number of physicians who are using raw, fresh cannabis to treat patients and they say THCa has medicinal qualities that get lost after the marijuana plant is dried.
Also, you can metabolize THCa in larger doses than its psychoactive brethren, which means it is potentially even more effective. Research suggests that THCa has outstanding anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties. Indeed, THCa could even have anti-spasmodic properties which would help patients to control seizures.
At present, THCa is primarily used for patients with chronic immune system conditions. Patients with Lupus have also reported that juicing cannabis is the only effective treatment for the condition, after trying up to 40 different types of ‘traditional’ medications.
5 – THC Becomes Another Cannabinoid When It Degrades
If you’ve ever tried old and ‘stale’ weed, you may experience a rather ‘unusual’ high. Users report that they feel far more groggy and lightheaded than they do when using fresh weed. The reason for this odd feeling is because the marijuana is laden with a cannabinoid called Cannabinol (CBN). It forms when THC is exposed to light and oxygen.
Normally, dried and cured strains of cannabis will have little more than 0.5% CBN. However, when weed becomes stale, the process of oxidation causes its THC to transform into CBN. While stale marijuana sounds less than appealing, research suggests that CBN actually has a set of unique benefits. Most relevant is the fact that CBN is arguably one of the world’s greatest sedatives – if you’re in dire need of sleep, CBN can help you overcome even strong bouts of insomnia. Back in 2008, archaeologists found almost 800 grams of cannabis in a Chinese tomb. The weed was almost 2,700 years old, and was extremely high in CBN.
6 – There Are at Least 1,200 Names for Marijuana
While you have heard of a few of the most commons ones such as ganja, Mary Jane, pot, and weed, there are approximately 1,200 slang terms for cannabis. Although Herodotus wrote about the herb in 440 BC, the term ‘cannabis’ did not appear in the Oxford dictionary until the 16th century where it was described as parts of the plant that could be “smoked, chewed, or drunk for their intoxicating or hallucinogenic properties.”
The term ‘ganja’ is a Sanskrit word and NOT a Rastafarian word, as is often believed. There is a suggestion that Indians named it after the River Ganges. ‘Pot’ comes from at least the 1970s, if not earlier, and is related to a Spanish mulled wine known as ‘potiguaya’. It is a special kind of wine because marijuana buds are steeped in it. ‘Weed’ has only been used as a slang term since the 1980s; as weeds are tough, durable, and grow everywhere, it seemed like an appropriate word for a plant that grows in many different climates.
‘Marijuana’, actually misspelled ‘marihuana’, comes from Mexican Spanish and was the name of an herbal mix smoked by Mexicans. When a large number of people traveled north of the border in the midst of the Mexican Revolution, they brought large amounts of the herb with them. The unappealing view of these immigrants meant that everything associated with them carried negative connotations, and so began the use of the word ‘marijuana’ to describe cannabis, along with its prohibition in the United States.
One of the reasons for the large number of slang terms is because of weed’s illegality. Over the years, users had to speak in code to ensure their ‘criminal’ activity remained uncovered. Unusual terms for cannabis that you may not have heard of include Houdini, Airplane, Climb, Aunt Mary, Muggle, and Nixon (which refers to low-grade cannabis being sold as a high-quality bud).
7 – You Can Enjoy Your THC Hit in Many Different Ways
Everyone knows that you can smoke marijuana and also consume it in the form of an edible, but there is a variety of ways to derive the benefits of Mary Jane:
- Blunt: This is the experienced smoker’s weapon of choice. It involves using several cigar papers to create a powerful joint.
- Drinks: Cannabis tea anyone? Weed tea has been used in India for thousands of years and you can brew your own using stems. Alternatively, you can try your hand at weed beer which tastes incredible!
- Sprays: Did you know that there are THC sprays available on the market? Rather than lighting up a joint, simply spray some on your tongue and you’re good to go. Of course, most experienced cannabis lovers enjoy the entire ‘experience’ of smoking a joint, blunt or pipe, and who are we to argue?
8 – In Bhutan, Farmers Feed Weed to Their Pigs to Make Them Fatter
Bhutan is a tiny mountainous nation in South Asia with a population of around 800,000 people. Marijuana is illegal for human consumption there, which is a bit of a tease when you consider how much of it grows in the country. In fact, it grows so prolifically that it’s considered a pest! It established itself in Bhutan in around 10,000 BC and today, it grows almost everywhere. Seriously, weed grows on the streets and rooftops of Bhutan’s villages!
Bizarrely enough, though, cultivation, production, and manufacturing of marijuana in Bhutan are punishable by a prison term of up to five years. Even more unusual is the fact that despite its illegality, farmers are allowed to feed it to their pigs! The whole ‘marijuana gives you the munchies stereotype has long since been proven to be true, and clearly, since the pigs get fatter, Bhutanese farmers are well aware of cannabis’ ability to stimulate their appetite.
9 – Denver’s Marijuana Dispensaries Outnumber Starbucks AND McDonalds Combined by Over Three to One
If you love weed but live in a state where recreational use is illegal, you must occasionally cast an envious eye at residents of Denver, Colorado, where there seems to be a weed dispensary around every corner. Cannabis has been legal for recreational use in the state since 2012, and the state’s coffers are positively bulging from the additional income.
Of course, this has led to the rise of the marijuana dispensary. Denver is the capital of Colorado and with a population of 700,000, it is actually a relatively small city by American terms. Therefore, you may be astonished to learn that it has 364 weed dispensaries as of the end of February 2018. There are 169 ‘recreational’ ones and 195 medical dispensaries, so you won’t have to go far to find one. In contrast, there are only 31 McDonalds’ and 80 Starbucks restaurants.
And by the way, there are 1,021 total dispensaries in Colorado, compared to just 322 Starbucks and 106 Walmart’s. The small town of Durango, with a population of under 17,000 people, has seven dispensaries alone!
10 – THC Is Only Legal in One Country Worldwide
In December 2013, Uruguay became the first nation in the modern era to completely legalize weed. In August 2014, the law allowed residents to grow up to six plants at home, and the government also announced the formation of a marijuana dispensary regime that would be controlled by the state. By October 2014, ‘grower’s clubs’ were registered which are allowed grow up to 99 plants a year. Also, in 2017, a total of 16 pharmacies were given the authorization to sell weed commercially.
Canada is set to follow suit in 2018, and we hope that there is a snowball effect whereby other countries realize that marijuana has genuine medical and recreational benefits. Experts in the industry believe that countries such as the Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic, Jamaica, and France will ultimately legalize the herb, and as for the United States, it is legal in nine states and Washington D.C but we don’t expect it to become legal in a federal sense in the near future.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana and THC
THC is a remarkable compound in marijuana that not only gets you high, but also helps treat a variety of medical ailments.
It is also extremely relaxing, and in the famous case of the trapped Chilean miners, few people know that weed and porn were sent to help calm them down while they awaited help!
The bottom line is that humans have used pot for at least 12,000 years, and during this time, no one has ever died from a marijuana overdose. While Denver residents can smoke until their heart’s content, it isn’t so easy for people in other parts of the world where possession could lead to fines, jail time, or even a prison sentence. Of all the compounds in marijuana, THC is not specifically the ‘best’, but it is probably the most fun!