When opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts, one of the first questions we hear from many people is this: How is it possible that one medicine can impact so many conditions? From anxiety, to pain, to nausea, and more. This sounds “too be good to be true,” as if medical marijuana is some kind of miracle drug. First, medical marijuana is not a miracle drug. It does not work for everybody, and even if it does work, it requires some trial and error to get to the best impact possible. At NETA we cannot give medical advice; please refer to our patient handbook for more information including our disclosures. What we can talk about is the experience of other patients. We can also give proper guidance of rapidly increasing sets of information and research that is being developed all over the world. In this post, we are trying to create the layman’s explanation of the Endocannabinoid system. If you are looking for the deeper scientific analysis and details, there are some great articles out there. Simply Google it.

So back to the original question: How can medical marijuana impact so many things? The research and theory on this question started with a basic premise that if the body metabolizes marijuana (and clearly it does) then there needs to be some receptors and a “system” that actually does that. We have talked to several researchers on this topic and here is how they explain the most current thinking: Some nerves in the body are like little pipes with receptors at the end. Nerves communicate with each other by sending a signal from nerve to nerve, from pipe to pipe. Now, why don’t we feel a full range of emotions, feelings and sensations that are possible at any given point? The answer is that there is a “film” between the nerves that blocks the nerves from “firing” all the time. That “film” happens to be a compound that is very similar to cannabis.

What this means is that the body naturally produces cannabis-like molecules (the scientific names for the first 2 that were discovered are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)) and the body also has receptors (the scientific names are CB-1 and CB-2) that can “accept” these molecules and put them into the system. In other words, the body naturally produces “cannabis” and we all use “cannabis” all day, all the time.

To be more specific, this natural body-produced “cannabis” is helpful in regulating a whole set of functions in our body including pain relief, metabolism, energy, inflammation, sleep, appetite/hunger, relaxation and many more.

The idea is that if one consumes cannabis (the plant) the active ingredients (THC, CBD, CBN and others) in it help regulate the body’s system in a similar way to the naturally occurring “cannabis” produced by the body.

For example, a patient with MS might have significant tightness in his or hers muscles and back pain. The body’s own “cannabis” is not enough to deal with that. Taking “external cannabis” (the plant) might help create a new balance. Of course, it might work the other way around too. If someone is already relaxed and sleepy and he or she consumes “external” cannabis they might fall asleep very quickly. In other words, accentuating a condition.

What is interesting about the Endocannabinoid system is that on one hand it appears to be such a fundamental element in the way our body regulates itself, and yet on the other hand, so few people understand it or even know about it. The reality is that significant research was done already on this system (again, Google it). The fundamental issue that remains is the image that cannabis has in our society. Doctors, politicians, health administrators and the public need to take cannabis more seriously if our goal is to increase our understanding of it. That is the reason we wanted to write this post in “simple terms.” We hope that you will do your part by passing this along and telling others about the Endocannabinoid system. Better understanding can help people who are suffering from various debilitating conditions to consider cannabis from a Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary as a potential method to improve their ailments.

With care,

The NETA team


New England Treatment Access, Inc., (NETA) is a Massachusetts Medical Marijuana dispensary, serving patients from Western Massachusetts to the Boston Area. With dispensaries (RMDs) in Northampton and Brookline, NETA provides registered patients in Massachusetts with first-rate marijuana therapies.