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Cannabinoids are a collective group of compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors. They include plant-derived phytocannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids, and endogenously-derived endocannabinoids. The primary source of cannabinoid toxicity is from plant-derived cannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids. These agents act as cannabinoid receptor agonists. More than 60 naturally occurring cannabinoids are found in the Sativa and Indica species of Cannabis, with delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being the main psychoactive compound. Other naturally occurring cannabinoids include cannabidiol and cannabinol. Marijuana is the most common colloquial name for crushed, dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis plant.
In recent years, there have been many reports of marijuana toxicity, primarily in the pediatric population, as medical and recreational marijuana has been legalized. The terms phytocannabinoids, marijuana and cannabis are used interchangeably. Synthetic cannabinoids were created for therapeutic and research purposes; however, despite legal efforts to limit their availability, synthetic cannabinoids have become an increasingly common drug of abuse, sold under various street names such as K2, Spice, and Black Mamba. Synthetic cannabinoids are associated with much more morbidity and mortality than the phytocannabinoids. Prescription preparations for medical usage include dronabinol, or pure THC, nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, and cannabidiol (CBD). Pharmaceutical use of cannabinoids is an ongoing field of research.