The endocannabinoid system refers to a group of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors that are involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory; it mediates the psychoactive effects of cannabis and, broadly speaking, includes:
- The endogenous arachidonate-based lipids, anandamide (N-arachidonoylethanolamide, AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG); these are known as “endocannabinoids” and are physiological ligands for the cannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids are all eicosanoids.
- The enzymes that synthesize and degrade the endocannabinoids, such as fatty acid amide hydrolase or monoacylglycerol lipase.
- The cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, two G protein-coupled receptors that are located in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
- The endocannabinoid system has been studied using genetic and pharmacological methods. These studies have revealed that cannabinoids act as neuromodulators for a variety of physiological processes, including motor learning, synaptic plasticity, appetite, and pain sensation.
This just in: No difference was found in the brains of very heavy cannabis smokers compared to nonusers. More evidence that nullifies the neoprohibitionists’ assertions that THC is “neurotoxic” and causes “brain changes” associated with “mental illness.” Science slays reefer madness once again.