Are humans born to smoke cannabis? Yes, according to Allyn Howlett, a researcher at the St. Louis University Medical School, who in 1988 discovered a brain receptor for the chemical THC. And yes again according to author Michael Pollan who, in his popular book The Botany of Desire, explains how the human brain has evolved to the point where it can experience a marijuana high. According to Pollan, in a similar fashion that the brain is “pre-wired” to receive endorphins and serotonin it is also pre-wired to receive cannabinoids. In fact, the brain produces its own endogenous cannabinoid, “anandamide,” its name derived from the Sanskrit word for “inner bliss.”
Why does the brain need to create a mood-altering chemical? Life can be painful, physically and emotionally. A joyful experience, childbirth is also an excruciating one. Thanks to anandamide this pain and the fear associated with it are forgotten, and second and/or more babies are born. In many instances forgetting is good, if not necessary, for our mental health.
Throughout man’s existence his brain has increasingly evolved to produce its own high when needed. In answer to the question: What does man want? Freud answered, “He wants to become happy and remain so.” For some of us a natural euphoria is enough. For others, and for a variety of reasons, there is an increased need for bliss. In answer to the question: How does the brain find happiness and remain there? Well, the answer just might be spelled P-O-T.