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Author

Brian Jones

Date of Award

5-3-1996

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Krista Fischer-Stenger

Abstract

Marijuana contains 80 or more cannabinoid substances as well as other biologically active plant products. Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive component of marijuana. It is a small lipophilic molecule that is known to perturb cellular membranes (1). It has recently been shown to bind to specific receptors, called cannabinoid receptors, in the brain and in peripheral tissues. The cannabinoid receptor in the brain is called CB1. THC also binds to another receptor expressed primarily in the spleen, CB2. Since there is no reason for human cells to have receptors that bind a plant product, there must be a natural substance found in human bodies similar in structure to THC that binds to the cannabinoid receptors. Anandamide (arachidonoylethanolamide), isolated from pig brain, has been identified as the natural ligand of these cannabinoid receptors (2). Anandamide is able to bind and activate these receptors and therefore is potentially an important regulatory molecule.

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