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Ann Pharm Fr. 2008 Aug;66(4):219-31. doi: 10.1016/j.pharma.2008.07.003. Epub 2008 Sep 4.

[Neuropsychopharmacology of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Unité de neuropsychopharmacologie, FRE 2735 CNRS, faculté de médecine et pharmacie, université de Rouen, 22, boulevard Gambetta, 76183 Rouen cedex, France.


Today, the main route of introduction of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active substance of cannabis, into the human body is via the lungs, from smokes produced by combustion of a haschich-tobacco mixture. The use of a water pipe (nargileh-like) intensifies its fast supply to the body. THC reaches the brain easily where it stimulates CB1 receptors; their ubiquity underlies a wide variety of effects. THC disappears from extracellular spaces by dissolving in lipid rich membranes, and not by excretion from the body. This is followed by a slow release, leading to long lasting effects originating from brain areas containing a large proportion of spare receptors ("reserve receptors"). Far from mimicking the effects of endocannabinoids, THC caricatures and disturbs them. It induces both psychical and physical dependencies, but the perception of withdrawal is weak on account of its very slow elimination. THC disturbs cognition. Acutely, it develops anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects, which causes a lot of users to abuse THC, thus leading to a tolerance (desensitization of CB1 receptors) making anxiety and depression to reappear more intensely than originally. THC has close relationships with schizophrenia. It incites to tobacco, alcohol and heroine abuses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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