What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are components of the cannabis plant that have shown some form of interaction with the bodies endocannabinoid system. There are over 120 known cannabinoids at the time of this writing, each with their own unique properties. ,Some of the most common cannabinoids can be found in the image to the right, next to their chemical structure.

There are so many cannabinoids, most of which we know almost nothing about, that for the purposes of this page I will focus on the most abundant cannabinoids typically found in cannabis cultivars.

The first one we will focus on is THC. THC, as we learn more about it is more of an umbrella term for a specific kind of cannabinoid known to cause psychoactivity when metabolized by the body. The primary substance we think of when describing THC is actually known as ▲9 THC, or delta 9 THC. While this is typically the psychoactive component found in cannabis, it actually starts out as CBG in young cannabis plants. As the plant matures and develops trichomes, those trichomes begin filling themselves with cannabinoids and terpenes. In most cases the predominant  cannabinoid found in raw cannabis plants is known as THCa, which is not psychoactive at all. Only once exposed to heat will THCa drop its acid molecule transforming into delta 9 THC.

Also known as decarboxylation, THCa exposed to heat that has been converted to delta 9 THC is what allows for the digestion of cannabis products. THC is also fat soluble which is why heating cannabis in butter for 1 to 2 hours on a low heat, then straining out the solids is a great way to make your own edibles, though they can be quite difficult to dose based upon the THCa content of your starting material.

Use caution when creating your own canna butter. Like how THCa transforms into THC delta 9 with heat, there are limits to the amount of time you should expose the plant material to heat, and the level of heat used. Too long on a hot surface, or even short time periods in excessive heat will cause the delta 9 THC to degrade into another cannabinoid known as CBN.

CBN has a distinct effect of causing drowsiness, or a feeling of tiredness. In the case of insomniacs this may be a desired outcome. For everyone else it is important to remember this fact so you don’t end up excessively tired when you only needed to be slightly elevated.

There have also been studies implying that CBN may help with pain reduction, inflammation relief among other things.

Probably the next best known cannabinoid is CBD. Like delta 9 THC, CBD starts out with an acid molecule attached, that is released once it is exposed to heat. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a psychoactive response. Because of this fact it is much less regulated than other cannabinoids, gaining a form of federal legalization from the 2018 Farm Bill which dictates hemp derived cannabinoid preparations as legal for possession, sale and consumption by the general public. Hemp of course refers to a form of the cannabis plant containing less than .3% delta 9 THC. You read that right! Cannabis is hemp with over 0.3% THC content, and hemp is cannabis with under 0.3% THC. Contrary to popular opinion, they are the same plant not cousins.

CBD is one of the most widely researched cannabinoids with scientific studies pointing to a possible link with CBD and reduction of inflammation and thus relief for those with inflammatory disorders such as crohn’s disease, migraines, and fibromyalgia to name just a few.

Other studies point to CBD’s potential as an anticonvulsant. It has been shown in studies to aid in the reduction of symptoms experienced by those with epilepsy, darvet syndrome, cerebral palsy and many other disorders that cause spasticity issues.

Some other uses for CBD that scientific studies have pointed to are relief from anxiety, skin disorders, and diabetes. These studies have been approved by the FDA. You should do your own research to determine if cannabis is right for you. According to the federal government cannabis and cannabis derived products are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.


As mentioned above, there are somewhere around 120 known cannabinoids and we have covered only 3 so far. Some honorable mentions are THCv thought to promote wakefulness and regulation of metabolism. CBG, known as the mother of all cannabinoids due to the way that CBG forms on the cannabis plant, and as the plant ages it is the CBG that transforms into CBD, THC or the other well known cannabinoids. Few studies have been conducted on the affects of CBG to the human body, but early signs suggest similar anti inflammatory properties to CBD as well as a more overall affect on general wellbeing.

This brief overview of some of the most studied cannabinoids is only a tiny portion of cannabis’ overall potential. As research is conducted and focused on some of the lesser known components of cannabis the possibilities are plentiful for further advancement in the understanding of cannabis as a medicine. I hope  you have found this to be informative and I welcome you to come in to any Lotus Gold location to speak with our well trained staff to determine how we may best assist you on your journey into medical cannabis.