Você está na página 1de 7

Introduction to Chemistry D.

Nugyen 08/25/2009

The Effect of THC on the body and the Cannabis Debate

The state of California is currently in an economic crisis. California is considered one of the top ten economic powerhouses of the world but yet the state has a $42 billion dollar budget deficit. With an outstanding budget deficit, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has made a lot of cuts in programs and services to the public to offset budget with no real solution in sight. There was a commercial on the television a few months ago that caught my eye. It suggested in order to help ease the devastating budget deficit of California, cannabis or marijuana should be legalized and regulated bringing in the state up to and maybe more than $14 billion dollars. While there are many topics to be discussed in this paper, the background information of cannabis will be discussed as well as the pharmacology of cannabis and its chemical structure; the effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol on the human body, and medical marijuana research. Background Marijuana is the most used illicit drug in the world. The cannabis sativa plant, as it is known grows in many environments and it can be traced back to the almost the beginning of time. The stalk of the plant or hemp provided products such as fiber, cloth, paper, and food as well as many soaps, shampoos, and oils. (Earleywine, 2002). The United States was a very big producer of hemp until it was banned. Medicinal uses of the cannabis plant have been traced back to the early times of China by the mystical emperor Shen Neng around 2737 B.C. The plant appears in folk medicine as a treatment for seizure, pain, poor appetite, insomnia, nausea asthma, depression, and muscle spasms (Earleywine, 2002).

Even though the medicinal uses for the plant were discovered a very long time, marijuana has been banned by the federal government since 1937. Before that, medicines containing marijuana and marijuana itself were available legally made by well-known pharmaceutical firms until The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed by Franklin D Roosevelt. The act banned the cultivation and selling of marijuana. In 1970, President Richard Nixon passed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, otherwise known as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. This law established five schedules or categories of ranked substances by balancing potential for abuse against medical usefulness. Even though marijuana is considered illegal by fedeal law, many states recognize its harmlessness and has decriminilized the drug. Some states have even recognized and legalized its medicinal benefits. California was the first state to recognize medicinal marijuana. The state of California passed Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 that would allow medical marijuana to patients that have been recommended by a physician. California is one of thirteen states who have medical marijuana laws. In most counties, a person is allowed to cultivate six mature or twelve immature plants and can possess up to eight ounces of processed cannabis flowers under State Bill 420 Statewide Default Patient Guidelines (MPP, 2008, p.7). California is also home to 400 medical marijuana dispensaries. While these states have these improved laws moving towards decriminalization, the federal government is still fighting to keep marijuana illegal. The chemistry of cannabis Cannabis contains more than 400 different chemical compounds. There are at least 66 compounds that are unique to the plant and receieve the name "cannabinoids". The best known cannabinoid is delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol is more abundant in the plant than anything else which leads researchers to hypothesize that it is the main source of the drug's impact (Earleywine, 2002). There are two other common cannabinoids, Cannabinol or CBN and Cannabidiol or CBD, along with Tetrahydrocannabinol make up the most prevalent psychoactive chemicals in the

plant and provide the majority of marijuana's effects. All cannabinoids are lipophilic- they dissolve in fat, fatty tissue, or fatty fluids and are not soluble in water.

The chemical structure of the delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is C21 H30 O2. The chemical name is Tetrahydro-6,6,9-trimethyl-3-pently-6H-debenzo[b,d]pyran-1-ol. The molecular weight is 314.47 and the boiling point is 200 degrees Celcius or 392 degrees Fahrenheit (Erowid, 2009). The chemical structure of Cannabinol C21 H26 O2 and its chemical name is 6,6,9- Tremethyl-3-pentyl6H-debenzo[b,d]pyran-1-ol. Cannabinol also has an alternate chemical name of 3-amyl-1 hydroxy6,6,9-trimethyl-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran and its molecular weight is 310.44. (Erowid, 2009) According to the Chemistry of THC website done by Dickison College, the structure of Tetrahydrocannabinol is classified where the double bonds occur. The place in which the double bond is causes one molecule of THC to be more potent than another. The top ring is associated with the cannabinoid activity in the receptors and the orientation of the side chain plays a role in how the receptor receives the molecule. But the side chain is the most important part; as the potency can be increased by adding more carbon atoms onto it. It can be increased to 7 carbon chains and the configuration of the hydroxy group is critical to determining the potency. (Pearson, 2009) Effects of cannabis on the body The pharmacological effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol vary with the dose, the method of administration, and the user's degree of experience with the drug. Cannabis is more likely to be inhaled through smoking than it is ingested in food but more and more ways of cooking with cannabis have surfaced.. The potency of the drug is determined by the plant strain, growing conditions and storage. Once

ingested or inhaled, the times vary in when the effects are felt. Anywhere from five-fifteen minutes from inhalation and an hour or two for ingestion. Once cannabinoids enter the body, they must find a site to create their effects. There are cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system and they are called CB1. They are numerous and are ten times more abundant than opiod receptors, the sties of action for morphine. There is also a second sight of action in the immune system. This is receptor CB2. (Earleywine, 2002). Research has also shown that cannabinoids could inhibit the production of an important compound, cyclic adenosine monophosphate or cyclic AMP or cAMP, which helps initiate nerve impulses. When cAMP is inhibited, the firing rate of the nerve slows, decreasing neurotransmitter release. This shows that cannabinoids alter the communication between nerve cells (Earleywine, 2002). When the CB1 receives the Tetrahydrocannabinol, dopamine is released in the body, sending the message of feeling good. While Tetrahydrocannabinol causes the intoxifying effects, Cannabinol has about one-tenth the psychoactive effects of THC. In high doses, Cannabinol can increase sleep and decrease body temperature. It also decreases THC's psychoactive effects, especially in the stimulating aspects of the stimulating aspects of the user's experience, but it may also extend the duration of intoxication. Cannabidiol may decrease anxiety and psychotic symptoms as well as minimize seizures. In combination with Tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol may increase THC concentrations, slow its metabolism, and limit any anxious or parnoid feelings associated with intoxication (Earleywine, 2002). The amount of time required to metablize Tetrahydrocannabinol has shown considerable variation from personto person and study to study. THC from the blood is eventually excreted in urine and feces. More than 55% of THC are excreted in the feces and ~20% in the urine (Worldofmolecules.com, 2007). The half-life, the period required to break the dose down to 50% of its original amount of marijuana based on urinary excretion show varied numbers. It is estimated that Tetrahydrocannabinol's half life ranges from as little as nineteen hours to as much as four days (Earleywine, 2002).

Medical marijuana research While there are approved uses of medical marijuana , there is much research to be done on all of its effects and uses. Cannabis is currently being used to treat nausea and vomitting associated with cancer chemotherapy and drugs for controlling the spread of the AIDS virus. It is also used to control seizures in epilepsy patients. Cannabis reduces pressure with the eyes associated with glaucoma. It also alleviates muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis or for paraplegics and quadriplegics (Pearson & Harrison, 2007). There is also new scientific evidence, according to www. worldofmolecules.com is showing that Tetrahydrocannabinol can prevent Alzheimer's Disease by counteracting the activiation of microglia and thus inducing the inflammation of microglia binding to amyloid protein (worldofmolecules, 2008). Although there is no cure for cancer, there have been instances where THC as cut as growth of lung cancer by half in mice. In a study done for the efficacy of crude marijuana and synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol as treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, it was concluded that marijuana or synthetic oral THC are more effective than plecebo in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting from drugs of high emtic potential (Cotter, 2009). There have also been a lot of research studies on the side effects and long time effects of smoking marijuana. There have been studies done that suggest that the evidence for an association betwen use of marijuana and abnormalities in lung function is inconsistent. In one study, "smoking only marijuana was not associated with abnormalities in forced expiratory volume in 2 second ([FEV.sub.1]), forced vital capacity (FVC) , ratio of FEV.sub.1 to FVC, various measures of small airway function or singlebreath diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide" (Tashkin 2009). Also, according to Taskin, "an 8-year longitudinal extension of this study did not show an age-related accelerated decline in FEV.sub.1 among participants who smoked only marijuana compared with participants who did not smoke marijuana or tobacco. There was a significant accelerated decline among those who smoked tobacco" (Tashkin 2009).

Conclusion It's amazing that a plant that has been around for 10,000 years and its medicinal uses have been applied at least 4,500 years is still a hot topic of debate today. Cannabis's main psychoactive ingredient Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol is made mostly of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms. The discovery of the CB1 and CB2 receptor sites have increased the marijuana research even though funding is still limited due to its illegality. There is a synthetic form of Tetrahydrocannabinol, dronabinol or sold as Marinol that is federally recognized as an appetite stimulant and anti-nausea/vomiting agent. Many find that inhalation of THC has a greater effect and takes effect in a shorter amount of time than pill form. Even though there are many states that recognize cannabis for its medicinal properties, the federal government does not. It is a constant struggle between proponents, opponents, and government.

References Cannabis Chemistry http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_chemistry.shtml Cotter, Jayme. "Efficacy of crude marijuana and synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol as treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and comiting: a systematic literature review. (Journal Club Article) (Report)." Oncology Nursing Forum 26.3 (May 2009): 345(8). Academic OneFile. Gale. National University Library System. 23.Aug 2009. Earleywine, Mitch. Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. 2002. Oxford University Press, Inc. Pearson, Chris. Introduction to THC. The Role of Chemistry. Http://itech.dickinson.edu/chemistry/? p=671 Tashkin, Donald P. "Does smoking marijuana increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? (commentary)." CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal 180.8. (april 14, 2009) :797(2) Academic OneFile. Gale. National University Library System, 23, Aug 2009. <http://find.galegroup.com/itx/start.do?prodID=AONE> THC-Tetrahydrocannabinol. Www.worldofmolecules.com