Nomenclature

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The scientific name of Marijuana, Cannabis sativa, can be traced to the works of Carol Linnaeus. Its nomenclature started when Linnaeus established the genus in 1753 ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {"citationID":"MuhOHuAu","properties":{"formattedCitation":"(Clarke, 1981)","plainCitation":"(Clarke, 1981)"},"citationItems":[{"id":496,"uris":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/GKA5V2XB"],"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/GKA5V2XB"],"itemData":{"id":496,"type":"book","title":"Marijuana Botany: An Advanced Study: The Propagation and Breeding of Distinctive Cannabis","publisher":"Ronin Publishing","number-of-pages":"356","source":"Google Books","abstract":"Marijuana Botany presents the scientific knowledge and propagation techniques used to preserve and multiply vanishing Cannabis strains. Also included is information concerning Cannabis genetics and breeding used to begin plant improvement programs. The book presents scientific and horticultural principles, along with their practical applications, necessary for the breeding and propagation of Cannabis and in particular, marijuana. It will appeal not only to the professional researcher, but to the marijuana enthusiast or anyone with an eye to the future of Cannabis products.","ISBN":"978-1-57951-109-8","shortTitle":"Marijuana Botany","language":"en","author":[{"family":"Clarke","given":"Robert Connell"}],"issued":{"date-parts":[["1981",6,15]]}}}],"schema":"https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json"} (Clarke, 1981). However, the usage of the name Cannabis sativa came before 1753. For instance, Caspar Bauhin in 1623 was the first to use the term. The plant is taxonomically placed in genus Cannabis and species sativa. Botanists widely agree that Cannabis has only one species (i.e. a monotypic genus).

Morphology

Cannabis is a dioecious plant. This means that the male and female reproductive organs are borne on different plants. Their pollination is by means of wind. It is an annual herb whose height can reach six metres. Marijuana is a rapidly growing plant whose seeds germinate in one week. They are dicotyledonous with cotyledons of unequal size. Their leave arrangement is opposite in seedling stage. Each leave has a maximum of ten or eleven leaflets. The stem is angular and hairy. Its axillary buds develop into branches when the plant is given adequate spacing. Most of them are short-day plants (i.e. require longer dark periods so as to flower). When the plant attains reproductive growth, the arrangement of leaves changes from opposite to alternate spiral.

As the cannabis plant enters the reproductive stage, the male and the female become morphologically distinct. During this stage, the male plant has fewer leaves on its upper part compared to the female one. The flowers of the male plant are found in long, loose clusters and the female ones in crowded clusters.

Active chemicals, chemical names, and chemical structures

Cannabis sativa has more than 400 chemicals. Among these chemicals, 61 are classified as cannabinoids. However, during the process of smoking of marijuana, more compounds are produced. These chemicals make marijuana unique in terms of toxicology and pharmacology.

Major cannabinoidsTetrahydrocannabinol

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is most active chemical in marijuana. THC has a double bond and hence capable of forming two stereoisomers (cis- and trans-isomers).The most active isomer of THC is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Its effects include mood and perceptual changes. Its molecular formula is C21H30O2 and has a molecular weight of 314.46 g/mol ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {"citationID":"XTSfGrfb","properties":{"formattedCitation":"(Pubchem, n.d.-b)","plainCitation":"(Pubchem, n.d.-b)"},"citationItems":[{"id":501,"uris":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/6D75NWS6"],"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/6D75NWS6"],"itemData":{"id":501,"type":"webpage","title":"Dronabinol | C21H30O2 - PubChem","abstract":"Dronabinol | C21H30O2 | CID 16078 - structure, chemical names, physical and chemical properties, classification, patents, literature, biological activities, safety/hazards/toxicity information, supplier lists, and more.","URL":"https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Dronabinol#section=Top","author":[{"family":"Pubchem","given":""}],"accessed":{"date-parts":[["2016",4,20]]}}}],"schema":"https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json"} (Pubchem, n.d.-b). It has a boiling point of 157 0C, and a melting point of 80 0C and has a very low solubility in water. However, it is highly soluble in organic solvents. When cold, it is glassy solid, but when it is warm, it has a sticky syrup like appearance ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {"citationID":"owfTwv6E","properties":{"formattedCitation":"{\\rtf (\\uc0\\u8216{}cornellbiochem - THC\\uc0\\u8217{}, n.d.)}","plainCitation":"(cornellbiochem - THC, n.d.)"},"citationItems":[{"id":523,"uris":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/KFZUDKXC"],"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/KFZUDKXC"],"itemData":{"id":523,"type":"webpage","title":"cornellbiochem - THC","URL":"https://cornellbiochem.wikispaces.com/THC","accessed":{"date-parts":[["2016",4,21]]}}}],"schema":"https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json"} (cornellbiochem - THC, n.d.). The structure of THC is shown below:

Diagram of tetrahydrocannabinol (Pubchem, n.d.).

CannabinolIts IUPAC name is 6,6,9-trimethyl-3-pentylbenzo[c]chromen-1-ol. It has a molecular formula of C21H26O2 and a molecular weight of 310.43 g/mol ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {"citationID":"XWK5CbMf","properties":{"formattedCitation":"(Pubchem, n.d.-a)","plainCitation":"(Pubchem, n.d.-a)"},"citationItems":[{"id":518,"uris":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/4H64N89V"],"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/4H64N89V"],"itemData":{"id":518,"type":"webpage","title":"cannabinol | C21H26O2 - PubChem","abstract":"cannabinol | C21H26O2 | CID 2543 - structure, chemical names, physical and chemical properties, classification, patents, literature, biological activities, safety/hazards/toxicity information, supplier lists, and more.","URL":"https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/cannabinol","author":[{"family":"Pubchem","given":""}],"accessed":{"date-parts":[["2016",4,20]]}}}],"schema":"https://github.com/citation-style-language/schema/raw/master/csl-citation.json"} (Pubchem, n.d.-a). It has a melting point of approximately 77 0C and a boiling point of 185 0C. This chemical appears as thin leaflets. The structure of cannabinol is shown below:

Diagram of tetrahydrocannabinol (Pubchem, n.d.).

ArachidonylethanolamideIts IUPAC name is (5Z,8Z,11Z,14Z)-N-(2-hydroxyethyl)icosa-5,8,11,14-tetraenamide. It has a molecular formula of C22H37NO2 and a molecular weight of 347.53g/mol. Its density is 0.94 g/cm3. It has a boiling point of approximately 522.3 0C at 760 mmHg. It is soluble in organic solvents e.g. ethanol but has very low solubility in water. The structure arachidonylethanolamide is shown below:

Diagram of tetrahydrocannabinol (Pubchem, n.d.).

CannabidiolIts IUPAC name is 2-[(1R,6R)-3-methyl-6-prop-1-en-2-ylcyclohex-2-en-1-yl]-5-pentylbenzene-1,3-diol. It has a molecular formula of C21H30O2 and a molecular weight of 314.46 g/mol. Its density is 1.025 g/cm3. Cannabidiol has a boiling point of approximately 463.9 0C and a flash point of 206.3 0C. This chemical appears as white crystalline powder. The structure of cannabidiol is shown below:

Diagram of tetrahydrocannabinol (Pubchem, n.d.).

CannabichromeneIts IUPAC name is 2-methyl-2-(4-methylpent-3-enyl)-7-pentylchromen-5-ol. It has a molecular formula of C21H30O2 and a molecular weight of 314.46 g/mol. It has a boiling point of approximately 428 0C at 760 mmHg and a flash point of 174.20 0C. It is soluble in organic solvents e.g. ethanol but has very low solubility in water. The structure of cannabichromene is shown below:

Diagram of tetrahydrocannabinol (Pubchem, n.d.).

Medical uses of marijuanaIntroduction

Even though Marijuana has been found to have negative health effects such as depression, anxiety, and rapid heartbeats, recent research studies have shown medical benefits of this plant. Some of the medical uses include stimulation of appetite and treatment of nausea, glaucoma, movement disorders, analgesia, schizophrenia, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Stimulation of appetite and alleviation of cachexia

The biggest problem facing patients suffering from HIV and cancer are a loss of weight and reduced caloric intake. In healthy people, inhaled marijuana has been found to increase appetite as well as food intake. Similarly, studies have found that dronabinol (or THC) leads to increase in appetite and a subsequent increase in weight in patients with HIV and Aids. Therefore, marijuana can be the least expensive treatment for these medical conditions in AIDS and cancer.

Nausea and vomiting treatment

Nausea and vomiting occur when sensory centres found in the brain and the digestive tract undergo stimulation. Emesis (or vomiting) is a complex process involving the coordination of various body systems such as digestive, respiratory, and posture. On the other hand, the mechanisms behind nausea are not well known. However, it is believed to arise from brain activity ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM CSL_CITATION {"citationID":"eSQpXq0p","properties":{"formattedCitation":"(Mack, Joy, & Medicine, 2000)","plainCitation":"(Mack, Joy, & Medicine, 2000)"},"citationItems":[{"id":516,"uris":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/78T3JGNI"],"uri":["http://zotero.org/users/local/2zyCA9QN/items/78T3JGNI"],"itemData":{"id":516,"type":"book","title":"Marijuana As Medicine?: The Science Beyond the Controversy","publisher":"National Academies Press","number-of-pages":"216","source":"Google Books","abstract":"Some people suffer from chronic, debilitating disorders for which no conventional treatment brings relief. Can marijuana ease their symptoms? Would it be breaking the law to turn to marijuana as a medication? There are few sources of objective, scientifically sound advice for people in this situation. Most books about marijuana and medicine attempt to promote the views of advocates or opponents. To fill the gap between these extremes, authors Alison Mack and Janet Joy have extracted critical findings from a recent Institute of Medicine study on this important issue, interpreting them for a general audience. Marijuana As Medicine? provides patients--as well as the people who care for them--with a foundation for making decisions about their own health care. This empowering volume examines several key points, including: Whether marijuana can relieve a variety of symptoms, including pain, muscle spasticity, nausea, and appetite loss. The dangers of smoking marijuana, as well as the effects of its active chemical components on the immune system and on psychological health. The potential use of marijuana-based medications on symptoms of AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and several other specific disorders, in comparison with existing treatments. Marijuana As Medicine? introduces readers to the active compounds in marijuana. These include the principal ingredient in Marinol, a legal medication. The authors also discuss the prospects for developing other drugs derived from marijuana's active ingredients. In addition to providing an up-to-date review of the science behind the medical marijuana debate, Mack and Joy also answer common questions about the legal status of marijuana, explaining the conflict between state and federal law regarding its medical use. Intended primarily as an aid to patients and caregivers, this book objecti...

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