Cannabis is one of the oldest psychotropic drugs known to humanity. The paper assesses the current knowledge on the cannabis, including the mechanisms of action and the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids.

Three varieties of Cannabis plant are recognised: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. The variety indica is used predominantly to obtain the drugs. Cannabis herb is usually named marijuana, while the cannabis oleoresin secreted by the glandular hairs found mainly on the flowering or fruiting tops of the plant is known as hashish. More than 400 known chemicals are present in cannabis, at least 70 of which are called cannabinoids. The major psychoactive constituent in cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC). It is now recognized that there are three types of cannabinoids: natural (phytocannabinoids), endogenous cannabinoids, and synthetic cannabioids.

2 (CB2) receptors, found predominantly in peripheral tissues with immune functions have been cloned. Therefore, the concept of endogenous cannabinoid system (endocannabinoid system, SEC) has been developed. Based on the current scientific evidence, there are several effects of cannabinoids with potential therapeutic use: antiemetic, analgesic in cancerous pains, and chronic neuropathic pain, in multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries.

Cannabis consume can result in a state of drug dependency and cannabis withdrawal has been included in DSM-V. Cannabis plant remains controversial in the twenty-first century and the potential therapeutic of specific cannabinoid compounds and medical marijuana remains under active medical research.

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