It is a question that has plagued stoner social gatherings since time immemorial: Why is it some people can smoke an entire ounce and still be standing, while others have a few tokes and are down for the count? Could it be tolerance, their lunch that day, or is there more to it? Read on to find out why cannabis affects everyone differently.
Some of the best memories are those parties where someone starts passing around a bong. Before you know it, the room is filled with dank smoke and everyone is having a good time. Except, of course, for that one person. The one who has taken too many hits and is convinced they are having an out of body experience.
While this would usually descend into some laughing and joking at their expense, it turns out they may not be able to help the fact that cannabis affects them differently. Your overall tolerance, state of mind, and even physical fitness play a big part in how you react to cannabinoids entering your body. There is, however, one difference that unites all cannabis users: a unique genetic structure.
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Who We Are and How We Work via DNA
Our DNA defines a lot of who we are. Whether we have brown or blond hair, are short or tall, every one of us is slightly different. Our genes are passed down through the combination of DNA provided by our parents. For the most part, portions of our DNA will be copies of our parents’ genetic code. Unless, however, there are genetic mutations in our DNA. Not the kind that lets you swing from rooftop to rooftop or turn invisible, but the type that can make you feel the effect of weed more profoundly.
Research has shown those mutations can extend to a particular gene that influences cognitive ability when THC is present. Those with a “functional polymorphism” in the COMT Val gene experienced greater memory impairment from THC, while carriers of the COMT Met gene are less affected. The reason that cannabis is so susceptible to variations in our DNA lies in the way the substance interacts with our body.
The Endocannabinoid System
DNA is the building block for all of the cells that make up our biological systems. The endocannabinoid system is a biological system that influences many other body systems by altering neurotransmitter activity. These neurotransmitters are signals that tell our body how to regulate itself. When the endocannabinoid system does not have a good balance of natural cannabinoids like anandamide (AEA), it may contribute to disorders.
In this way, cannabinoids from cannabis are thought to be a possible therapeutic target that can supplement natural endocannabinoid levels to help balance the body. Just like everyone’s brain works a bit differently, everyone’s endocannabinoid system works a bit differently. In addition to other biological factors, this can have a major impact on how a person feels when they use cannabis.
There are so many cannabis options available to try. From smokable hemp flower that will not get you high, to the many strains of marijuana available from dispensaries. It could be that there is a cannabis product out there that works for everyone, but that product will never be the same for each person. And it may be that you are intolerant to cannabis all together!
When using any type of cannabis, it is recommended to keep a journal of what you use, how much, how you take it, how often you take it, and what the potency, cannabinoid diversity, and terpenes are. Cannabis is a highly individualized experience in both recreational and medicinal uses. Unlike pharmaceuticals, there is no standard formula or recommended dose, so start with low amounts and low potency and take time to gradually increase. Doing this can help prevent adverse effects and bad experiences.