Archaeologists recently found a 2,700-year-old pot stash, so we know humans have been smoking weed for thousands of years. But it was only about 20 years ago that neuroscientists began to understand how it affects our brains.
Scientists have known for a while that the active ingredient in cannabis was a chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short.
Ingesting or smoking THC has a wide range of effects, from the psychoactive “getting high” to the physiological relief of pain and swelling.
It also acts as both a stimulant and depressant. How could one substance do all that?
Annalee Newitz is an American journalist who covers the cultural impact of science and technology. She is the editor-in-chief of io9, which named in 2010 as one of the top 30 science blogs by The Times. Her work has been published in Popular Science, Wired, Salon.com, New Scientist, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and AlterNet, and she is a regular lecturer at colleges and conferences.
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