The Science of Elevation and Euphoria

At the Prime Leaf, we love and celebrate the power of cannabis every day. We believe that all cannabis use is medicinal use, even when it’s used for a good time. After all, laughter, joy and relaxation are some of the most medicinal experiences in the world. So today, we’re talking about getting the science behind getting elevated. 

What happens to the brain and body when we consume high doses of cannabis? Where do the existential realizations and uncontrollable giggles come from? Why is it so hard to move from the couch sometimes? And where do those insatiable munchies come from? Let’s get scientific.

The Brain and Cannabis

When THC enters the bloodstream, it attaches to cannabinoid receptors concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, creating the classic cannabis euphoria and elation. 

Brain imaging studies have shown us how THC intoxication increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex region of the brain which is responsible for decision making, motor function and attention span …hope we haven’t lost you yet!

THC intoxication is also linked to the stimulation of the brain’s reward circuitry which is connected to the processing of emotions and memories. Increased activity in this region of the brain can activate heightened senses of pleasure and emotion that can lead to those familiar feelings of elation, happiness, giggles and even cravings for your favorite comfort food. Remember that late night Taco Bell that was the best thing you ever tasted? That is cannabis stimulating your brain’s reward system.

The Body and Cannabis

There are a number of other physical effects that can come with a body high. Some classic physical effects you might experience include:

Bloodshot eyes:

  • Cannabis consumption causes a decrease in blood pressure which causes blood vessels and capillaries to dilate. The ocular capillaries also dilate which reduces fluid pressure in and increases blood flow to the eyes … which makes them red! 
  • This can happen with any method of cannabis consumption.  The amount of THC consumed, how potent that THC was, and each unique person’s cannabinoid system will affect how red your eyes may get.
  • Other than it being a little obvious that you’ve enjoyed some potent cannabis, there is no reason to be concerned if your eyes get red! 

Dry Mouth

  • Two cannabinoid receptors found in the brain (CB1 and CB2) are also found in glands at the bottom of the mouth that are responsible for creating saliva. When THC binds to these receptors, these glands stop receiving messages from the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces saliva production
  • Avoid this by staying hydrated before and during cannabis consumption. Gum, cough drops or hard candies can also help alleviate this side effect.


  • Ahh that familiar feeling of heaviness that slowly takes over after a big hit or a heavy edible kicks in. This sensation of relaxation and sedation creates the feeling of being literally locked to your couch. While many cannabis users will associate this with a heavy indica strain, there is currently not enough research to specifically identify if and what combination of cannabinoids, terpenes or even consumption methods cause this sensation. However, the more cannabis that is consumed in one sitting, the more likely couch lock will happen.

There is definitely a lot going on in the brain and body when we consume cannabis. The good news is you don’t need to do much to benefit from all that cannabis has to offer, whether for a specific medical condition or just for a good time! So grab that Taco Bell (or your snack of choice:) and a full bottle of water and enjoy the ride.