Image: Yekaterina Kadyshevskaya, The Stevens Laboratory, University of Southern California

You ever hit the blunt and start trying to figure out how getting high even works? How does anything work, really? Electricity? Computers? There are infinite mysteries to life, but some dank scientists are trying to figure out one of life’s most important questions—what does your brain look like when you get high?

Advertisement

A team of scientists from around the globe published a study in The Cell that shows the molecular structure of your cannabinoid receptor 1, the receptor in your brain which processes THC. As you may know, THC is the chemical in marijuana responsible for getting you blazed. The group of scientists—who hail from eight different universities in China and the United States—developed a molecule that freezes your cannabinoid receptor 1 for enough time for them to see its molecular structure. Once scientists saw the structure of the CB1 molecule, they created a computer simulation to show how THC interacts with it. And because science is so beautifully poetic, we can see that the 3D computer simulation also shows, on a spiritual level, what happens when you get stoned. It’s a party up in there!

Mapping out the molecular structure of the CB1 receptor was an impressive feat. CB1 was notoriously difficult to map because it’s constantly moving around. Now that it’s been mapped, scientists can further investigate how it interacts with synthetic marijuana, which killed 15 people in 2015, and why it’s so dangerous.

The scientist who developed the technology to freeze the CB1 receptor, Alexandros Makriyannis, told The Verge, “What was interesting here is that active site had a lot of crannies, a lot of different sites within it. We didn’t expect it to be so intricate.”

Advertisement

Most importantly, we can see that the receptors in our brains that get us high looks like the party popper emoji, 🎉. Is that a metaphor? Let me smoke a bowl, and I’ll get back to you on that one.

[The Cell via The Verge]