Cannabis and civilisation as we know it are deeply intertwined and share at least a 5,000-year history. The first medicinal use of marijuana dates back to the time of the ancient Chinese Emperor Shen Nung somewhere around 2700 B.C. He was experimenting with weed and brewing tinctures.

Not until about 430 B.C., in “The Histories” by Herodotus, the recreational use of cannabis crop is mentioned, although thousands of years old smoking pipes are routinely discovered on archaeological excavation sites across the globe, while the academics prefer to stick to carbon-14 dating rather than dabbling with THC testing.

Although Egyptian mummies have been tested positive for traces of cocaine and apparently there are some giant pyramids buried in Bosnia, that could be even older than the great Khufu pyramid recently exposed as a hoax, now nobody is sure how old anything pre-1700 is. And the only ones laughing are ufologists ... the Ancient Aliens guys.

One thing we are certain of, is that cannabis definitely gets you high, but nobody has really definitively hit the nail on the head with a precise explanation of what it means to be “high”.

Until now, because we’ve compiled the best stoner insights from the brightest minds, churned them with a dose of our own weed experiences, added a pinch of the latest research and baked the blog, that finally gets to the bottom of getting high.

At the very least we’re sure the source of probably the best cannabis hypothesis will surprise you.

cannabis civilisation endocannabinoid system


In the mid-1990’s, scientists discovered, that human brains possess an endocannabinoid system, that produces its own cannabinoids similar to those found in weed. Moreover, cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, as well as in the brain.

CB1 receptors are found in the nervous system, nerve endings and most importantly, in high density in parts of the brain. While CB2 receptors are located primarily in your immune system literally in your guts, however, CB2 receptors are also present in the microglia of the brain; these glial cells make up 10-15% of all brain cells.

So in other words, simply blazing up a spliff or a joint can stimulate up to 15% of the brain. That’s pretty amazing if you hold stock in the belief that we ordinarily only use “10%” of our brain power.

THC activates the endocannabinoid system better or more efficiently than the other cannabinoids, because it is in ordinary stoner speak a better fit for the CB1 and CB2 receptors than all the rest. It is THC, that induces the biological response, that we experience as the uplifting sensation of getting “high”.

CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, that is commonly associated with medical marijuana. In contrast, the mechanics of CBD and precisely how it delivers its pain relief are still something of a mystery and definitely requires further research. We know it works, we just don’t know how.

Unlike THC, the poorly binding CBD “has no direct affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors, yet it appears to enhance the activity of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide” according to the recent study “The Pharmacological and Clinical Effects of Medical Cannabis”.


THC has such tremendous efficacy, because it is actually the phytocannabinoid twin of the naturally occurring endocannabinoid called “anandamide”. The word anandamide, like “ganja”, is derived from Sanskrit and fittingly “ananda” translates as joy.

Up until the early 1990’s, it was believed, that dope got you high because the effect was a “flood of dopamine” released in the brain. This still often perpetuated myth was officially debunked by the research of Dr.Raphael Mechoulam, when he synthesised THC and discovered the neural transmitter anandamide, AKA the bliss molecule.

Science and nature both confirm, that having cannabis on the brain is perfectly normal. Man and marijuana were made for each other. Why else would THC fit human receptors like a hand in a glove?

These days we are aware of at least 60 cannabinoids and much further scientific research is required to expand our knowledge far beyond the current partial familiarity with THC and CBD.

cbd endocannabinoid system carl sagan


The late great astrophysicist Carl Sagan was a genius and for younger readers uninitiated in the knowledge, that this dude dropped in his day, well, it suffices to say before Stephen Hawking was the go-to guy for all issues concerning astronomy, cosmology and science in general, Sagan was the poster boy for popular science.

Sadly Carl Sagan passed away in 1996, just before the rise of the marijuana legalisation movement and the subsequent seismic shift in the mainstream attitude towards cannabis.

Furthermore, back in the day Carl Sagan and the famous Dr. Lester Grinspoon were friends and Sagan is the mystery author of the brilliant “Mr. X”[1] essay featured in the good doc’s seminal (1971) work “Marijuana Reconsidered”.
Carl Sagan will be remembered for his contributions to many fields and perhaps his most overlooked stroke of genius is to be found tucked away at the bottom of a page as a footnote in his Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Dragons of Eden- Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence” (1977).

Here is Carl Sagan’s overlooked marijuana hypothesis for you to ponder: “Marijuana is often described as improving our appreciation of and abilities in music, dance, art, pattern and sign recognition and our sensitivity to nonverbal communication. To the best of my knowledge, it is never reported as improving our ability to read and comprehend Ludwig Wittgenstein or Immanuel Kant, to calculate the stresses of bridges, or to compute Laplace transformation. […] I wonder if, rather than enhancing anything, the cannabinols (the active ingredient in marijuana) simply suppress the left hemisphere and permit the stars to come out. This may also be the objective of the meditative states of many Oriental regions.”

On the other hand, maybe it’s just a simple three step process, that science has no business meddling with, let alone trying to study and measure. Get buzzed with a little weed, get high with a little more and get stoned with a lot, for some, it’s really that simple.

For others, marijuana ignites the imagination and unlocks the doors of perception. Whatever kind of stoner you are, we all have one thing in common, we all get the munchies after a good session, whether we smoked up gazing at the stars or vegetated ripping bong hits in the basement. 

External Resources:
  1. Marijuana-Uses » Blog Archive » Mr. X by Carl Sagan
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