Marijuana and Cannabinoid Research Methods and Protocols

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Author : Emmanuel S. Onaivi

Published in : Human press

ISBN : 1-59259-999-0

File type : pdf

File Size : 4 mb

Language : English

Description

Marijuana has remained one of the most widely used and abused drugs in the world. Research on the biological basis of the effects of marijuana, and therefore its usefulness as medicine, may have been hampered by several decades of irrational prejudice and also by the lack of specific molecular tools and technology. But the discovery of specific genes coding for cannabinoid receptors (CBrs) that are activated by smoking marijuana, and that the human body and brain makes its own marijuana-like substances called endocannabinoids that also activate CBrs, has transformed marijuana–cannabinoid research into mainstream science. An over whelming body of scientific evidence now indicates the existence of an elaborate, and previously unknown but ubiquitous, endocannabinoid physiological control system (EPCS) whose fundamental role in human development, health, and disease is unfolding. This system appears to exert a powerful modulatory action on retrograde signaling associated with cannabinoid inhibition of synaptic transmission. The promiscuous action and distribution of CBrs in most biological systems provides the EPCS limitless signaling capabilities of crosstalk within, and possibly between, receptor families that may explain the numerous behavioral effects associated with smoking marijuana. Advances in marijuana–cannabinoid research have already resolved the issue that marijuana use can be addicting in vulnerable individuals and that a missense in human fatty acid amide hydrolase, which inactivates endocannabinoids (anandamide) and related lipids, is associated with drug and alcohol dependence problems. These and other remarkable advances in understanding the biological actions of marijuana and cannabinoids have provided a much richer than previously appreciated cannabinoid genomics and raised a number of critical issues on the molecular mechanisms of cannabinoid-induced behavioral and biochemical alterations. Although these advances have enhanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms associated with the behavioral effects of marijuana use, the molecular identity of other cannabinoid receptor subtypes and transporters (if any), along with the growing number of endocannabinoids, will allow specific therapeutic targeting of different components of the EPCS in health and disease.
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