When you think of the average run-of-the-mill stoner, you probably think of a skinny dude in a tie dye t-shirt riding around town on his skateboard or bike all day with a big smile on his face. While the tie dye imagery is definitely outdated, the active lifestyle holds true. Recreational activities like riding, hiking, and skiing are all elevated under the influence of marijuana. Here, we dive into the science of how cannabis enhances almost any activity.
THC and You
Euphoria by definition is a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. As you’ve probably noticed, there are a lot of cannabis strains out there that provide a euphoric feeling, but science is still figuring out the exact cause. We know that THC might have some benefits other than just psychoactive feelings, but we’re still a little in the dark about why things feel the way they do when you’re high on marijuana.
The most common cannabinoid found in cannabis is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). You probably know that THC is responsible for the typical feeling of being “high.” It’s known to alter the user’s behavior, perception, mood, and consciousness.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated in its online article “Marijuana”:
“The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The membranes of certain nerve cells in the brain contain protein receptors that bind to THC. Once securely in place, THC kicks off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana. …
As THC enters the brain, it causes a user to feel euphoric or ‘high’ by acting in the brain’s reward system, areas of the brain that respond to stimuli such as food and drink as well as most drugs of abuse. THC activates the reward system in the same way that nearly all drugs of abuse do, by stimulating brain cells to release the chemical dopamine.”
In general, this is the chemical process behind getting high.
Terry Necco stated in his article “Marijuana and Sex: A Classic Combination”:
“Just as our bodies contain pleasure systems which reward us for sex; our brains contain neurocellular circuitry which can only be activated by substances with THC’s molecular structure. This makes the marijuana high a unique constellation of feelings, and there are only two sources for the substances which activate THC’s very own neuroreceptor. Our brain is one source: it generates a neurochemical very similar to THC, called anandamide. Translated, the word means bliss. The only other source for this bliss-producing substance is the cannabis plant.”
Essentially, when you smoke weed, the THC in your lungs ends up in your bloodstream, which then carries the chemicals to your brain. As the cannabinoid interacts with your brain chemistry, food tastes better, water is crisper, and the sun feels better on your skin.
In his book Is Marijuana The Right Medicine For You?, Dr. Bill Zimmerman said: