What is cannabis?

Cannabis (more commonly  known as marijuana) is a botanical native to parts of central and southern Asia that has been used for millennia for both practical, medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Cannabis can be divided into 3 different species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis, however  some consider them subspecies of the same parent species. Physically speaking, Cannabis sativa can grow to 5–18 feet or more, and is sparsely branched. Cannabis indica typically grows 2–4 feet tall and is compactly branched. Finally, Cannabis ruderalis, is a low-THC subspecies that some  scholars believe to be its own species due to its unique traits and phenotypes which distinguish it from Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa; while others debate whether ruderalis is a subdivision under Cannabis sativa.

Where did cannabis originally come from?

The cannabis plant is thought to have first evolved over 10,000 years ago in the steppes of Central Asia, specifically in the regions that are now Mongolia and southern Siberia. It was later introduced to Africa around 1550 BCE, then to Europe, and eventually into the Americas around 1492. The cannabis plant is one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops. It is believed humans began cultivating the plant between 5,000 to 6,000 years ago.

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds that make up the cannabis plant. At least 113 cannabinoids have been identified in the plant. The most well-known cannabinoid is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient to cannabis, followed closely by cannabidiol (CBD). Other lesser-known cannabinoids that have been identified include cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), delta-9 trahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabivarin (CBV), and cannabidivarin (CBDV).

What are endocannabinoids?

Endocannabinoids are similar to cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but are found and produced naturally in the human body, thus the term “endo” which refers to “within,” as in within the body. Two key endocannabinoids that have been identified so far are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).

What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system composed of endocannabinoids that bind to cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) in our bodies and regulates many crucial body functions, such as memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature, pain, immune responses, and even eating. When the THC cannabinoid binds with these receptors, it produces the plant’s psychoactive effects.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are the aromatic compounds found in the trichomes of the female cannabis plant and what gives cannabis its unique odor and flavor. There are over 150 types of terpenes in the cannabis plant. Besides giving its distinct aromas, terpenes help with the plant’s growth and survival by attracting some insects that help spread the plant’s pollen, while repelling those insects and animals that are tempted to eat or chew on the plant. The amount of terpenes in a cannabis plant depends on factors such as whether it was grown indoors or outdoors, its exposure to light, temperature, and when the plant was harvested.

What are trichomes?

Trichomes are the resinous sticky substance on cannabis buds that contain the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Strains with a heavy coating of trichomes typically have more cannabinoids and terpenes in them. There are three main groups of trichomes in cannabis: bulbous, capitate sessile, and capitate-stalked, Trichomes are what determines the plant’s flavor, taste and effects.

Is there a difference between medical and recreational cannabis?

No. There is no biological or chemical difference between cannabis sold for medicinal purposes versus cannabis sold for recreational purposes. The only real difference between the two is their legal status. Medical cannabis can only be obtained by a patient who has a qualifying medical condition in their state; whereas recreational cannabis is available to any adult (21 or older). However, medical cannabis may be available for those under 21 with a qualifying condition in some states.

What can cannabis help with?

Cannabis has been shown to be helpful and approved in the treatment for a number of conditions. These include, but are not limited to: cancer, epilepsy, AIDS, PTSD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and nausea, among others.

What conditions are covered under Utah cannabis law?

If you have any of the following conditions, you are eligible for Utah medical cannabis law. If your condition is not listed, you may petition the Compassionate Use Board, which will review your petition and recommend eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

  • HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Cachexia
  • Persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment, except for nausea related to:
    • pregnancy
    • cannabis-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome
    • cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Epilepsy or debilitating seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis or persistent and debilitating muscle spasms
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is being treated and monitored by a licensed health therapist (defined here), and that:
    • has been diagnosed by a healthcare provider by the Veterans Administration and documented in the patient’s record; or
    • has been diagnosed or confirmed by evaluation from a psychiatrist, masters prepared psychologist, a masters prepared licensed clinical social worker, or a psychiatric APRN
    • Autism
    • A terminal illness when the patient’s life expectancy is less than six months
    • A condition resulting in the individual receiving hospice care
    • A rare condition or disease that affects less than 200,000 individuals in the U.S., as defined in federal law, and that is not adequately managed despite treatment attempts using conventional medications (other than opioids or opiates) or physical interventions
    • Pain lasting longer than two weeks that is not adequately managed, in the qualified medical provider’s opinion, despite treatment attempts using conventional medications other than opioids or opiates or physical interventions
Is cannabis addictive?

Yes, cannabis can be addictive. However, the same can be said about caffeine and sugar, yet both are relatively harmless. The real question to ask then is how addictive is cannabis compared to other (more harmful) substances and what are the benefits..In terms of addictiveness, studies have shown that people who try cannabis are less likely to become addicted compared to most other drugs, including tobacco, heroin, cocaine, alcohol or stimulants, all of which lack the medicinal benefits of cannabis. In terms of numbers, the life-time risk of developing dependence among those who have ever used cannabis was relatively low at 9%, compared to 32% for nicotine, 23% for heroin, 17% for cocaine, 15% for alcohol and 11% for stimulants. More than nine-in-ten people who try cannabis will not become addicted to it.

Can you overdose on cannabis?

No. No one has ever overdosed on cannabis. In order to overdose on cannabis, it is estimated one would have to consume nearly 1,500 lbs. (680 kg) of cannabis in less than 15 minutes–clearly something not possible. However, some signs that you may have consumed too much cannabis include: increased heartbeat, disorientation, nausea and/or vomiting, and temporary feelings of anxiety or paranoia.