Massachusetts Medical Society: The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids

The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids

Module 1 - The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids

Created by Meredith Fisher-Corn, MD and Stephen B. Corn, MD

"Changes in marijuana policies across states legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use suggest that marijuana is gaining greater acceptance in our society. Thus, it is particularly important for people to understand what is known about both the adverse health effects and the potential therapeutic benefits linked to marijuana" (1).
Nora D. Volkow, M.D. Director National Institute on Drug Abuse

In order to fully appreciate the effects of cannabis and the rationale for the clinical use of medical cannabis, it is essential that one has knowledge of the endocannabinoid system. Therefore, we begin this comprehensive cannabis curriculum with a discussion of the endocannabinoid system, the cannabis plant, and how the components of the cannabis plant interact with the endocannabinoid system.


Editors' Note: Medical marijuana has become an important area of study in healthcare. Doctors and healthcare professionals must understand the medical, legal, and social issues to best respond to their patients' questions and attend to their needs. This content area is not intended to encourage or dissuade the use of medical marijuana, but has been created to provide a balanced portrayal of the research in this area.

Learning Objectives

After reading this material, a participant will be able to:

  • Describe the endocannabinoid system and apply this knowledge to clinical practice
  • Discuss the components of the endocannabinoid system and list some of the many functions of the endocannabinoid system
  • Explain why cannabis has regulatory effects in humans
  • Define phytocannabinoid
  • Discuss the therapeutic potential of various cannabinoids, including delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
  • Describe terpenes


Meredith Fisher-Corn, MD
Editor-in-Chief of

Cecilia J. Hillard, PhD
Director of the Neuroscience Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin



Meredith Fisher-Corn, MD  

Stephen B. Corn, MD  
Founding Editor-in-Chief,

Alan Ehrlich, MD
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts School of Medicine (UMMS)

Course Fees

Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) Member: $24.00
Non-MMS Member: $44.00
Allied Health Professionals: $19.20


Text & Graphics

CME Credit

Continuing Education for Physicians

2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™  

Accreditation Statement for Joint Providership
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and
policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint
providership of the Massachusetts Medical Society and The Answer Page, Inc. The 
Massachusetts Medical Society is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for 

AMA Credit Designation Statement  
The Massachusetts Medical Society designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

This activity meets the criteria for the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for risk management study.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Physician Assistants may claim 2.00 Category 1 credits for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

Continuing Education Credit for Pharmacists
The Board of Registration in Pharmacy in Massachusetts, (BOARD), accepts three continuing education types:  ACPE, AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ , and continuing education activities approved by any State Board of Pharmacy.  Click  here  for a list of all state Boards of Pharmacy.

A score of 70% or higher is required to receive  AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. 

Activity Term

Original Release Date: June 15, 2017
Review Date: N/A
Termination Date: June 15, 2020

System requirements:

Windows, XP, Vista, 7, 8 
Mac OSX 10.6 higher 
Most modern browsers including: 
Firefox 18.0+ 
Chrome 26+ 
Safari 5+ 
Flash player is required for some Online CME courses. 
iOS devices beginning with OS version 5 or higher (includes, iPhone, ipad and iTouch devices) 
Android devices including tablets and phones. 
Windows RT and tablets on Windows 8 are also supported.


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