The VICE Channels

    Can We Really Turn Off Weed Highs?

    Written by

    Brian Anderson

    Features Editor

    Not everyone likes getting baked. Not everyone wants to get stoned. And who can totally blame them? Getting high off cannabis can be fucking awful. So what if it were possible to reap any of the reported medicinal properties of pot without getting couch locked into those wizard-level echelons of Fear?

    It we're to believe Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, a physician-scientist with Americans for Safer Accces, a medicinal cannabis advocacy group, it is. As he explains in the above video, it is possible, at least in the confines of a flask, to convert tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to cannabinol, or CBD, a major component of cannabis that's just one of untold numbers of cannabinoids. 

    To hear Aggarwal tell it, the one is a structural isomer of the other. That is to say, THC and CBD share the same chemical composition, though their atoms are arranged in slightly different configurations. He breaks it down further, noting a particular ring within the molecular structure of cannabis. When this ring is opened, you've got CBD; when closed, THC.* And it's through a bit of heavy-acid isomerization that allows you to toggle between the two. 

    For more on the idea, check out this 2002 study (pdf) out of Hebrew University - Jerusalem. In the meantime, it remains the dream of any of those who'd tell you that weed might be getting too good, so to speak, insofar as we've focused too closely, and for too long, on meteoric THC levels. This has come to the detriment of the so-called entourage affect, a more holistic and therapy-minded approach that doesn't give short shrift to something like CBD, a unique compound in its own right that warrants more study into claims that it bears pain-relieving, and anti-seizure and anti-cancer properties, among other things. Aggarwal who goes so far to note how certain cancer research groups are even calling for the inclusion of CBD in chemo-therapy TKs. 

    But beyond that, CBD is also a really effective modulator of THC. It can blunt highs. For all those who for whatever reason just don't have a reason to get baked, but who may somehow stand to benefit from therapeutic cannabis, the smoky future of turning off highs is finally, maybe clearing. For the National Institute on Drug Abuse? Not so much

    This piece has been changed to reflect the following correction: Open ring is CBD, close ring is THC. We regret the error. 


    More on weed:

    HIGH COUNTRY: The Future of Weed

    Are Young Adults Getting Over Weed?