This is the predominant class of the subordinate compounds inherent in cannabis. Chasen used an illustration of the car and its engine to explain the cannabinoids. She said the cannabinoids are like the engines. They create both psychotropic and medicinal experiences making them majorly responsible for intoxication. It has a couple of medicinal compounds such as anti-convulsant, anti-spasmodic, anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, and pain-relieving properties. Williams explained that the two major primary cannabinoids are THS and CBD, though there are over a hundred cannabinoids in cannabis.

Cannabinoids are further separated into subclasses as follows:

  • Cannabichromenes (CBC);
  • Cannabidiols (CBD);
  • Cannabigerols (CBG);
  • Cannabinol (CBN) and cannabinodiol (CBDL);
  • Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC);
  • Other (such as cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabitriol (CBT) and other miscellaneous types).

These classes are sorted by the extent each is psychologically active. CBC, CBD, and CBG are not known to have psychoactive effects; CBN, CBDL, THC, and a few others are known to cause psychoactive effects of varying degrees.

Cannabinoids interact with specific receptors in our nervous systems, much like opiates. To date, scientists have found two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors exist primarily in our brains, while CB2 receptors are scattered throughout the rest of our bodies including our immune systems. Our bodies have a few naturally occurring substances that bind to CB1, and these plus the receptors have been dubbed “Endogenous cannabinoid system”— endocannabinoid for short.

The effects cannabinoids have within our systems vary with which receptor they react. There is still much research to be done on the exact wheres, whens, and whats of the endocannabinoid system, the primary cannabinoid interactions seem to involve our limbic systems and mesolimbic pathways (i.e. the part of the brain for cognition, memory, and psychomotor performance and the area in the brain related to feelings of reward and benefit).

The abundance and use of cannabinoids varies, depending on whether the cannabis plant is further cultivated as marijuana or hemp.

As Williams mentioned, of the cannabinoids, we know the most about CBD and THC. Most strands of marijuana are bred with higher levels of THC, as it is the most abundant and powerful psychoactive to provide the recreational drug effects. On the flipside, CBD is the most prevalent of non-psychoactive cannabinoids; it actually works to counteract the high and provides numerous medicinal benefits. CBD is typically cultivated from Hemp plants.