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The Brain and Marijuana: Chinese and US Researchers Uncover 'Perfect Fit' Behind the Buzz

Chinese and American scientists studying the precise mechanism of how marijuana gets people high have discovered within our brain cells “a pickpocket with three arms”.

The active compound in marijuana, or Cannabis sativa, was discovered in the 1960s, but the exact process of how it produces its narcotics effects on the brain remained largely a mystery.

The study, in this month’s issue of the journal Cell, sheds new light by unveiling, for the first time, the physical structure of human cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), a protein in our brain cell membranes that introduces the narcotic chemicals in marijuana to our brain cells.

The discovery, the researchers say, could lead to new pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects.

The CB1 receptors, which are naturally occurring proteins in human brain cell membranes, bind with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to produce “feel good” signal in neurons. Researchers have spent more than a decade trying to unravel...

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