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View Full Version : Let's expand the topic: Why additive and narcotic substances in plants?



Inclusa
2015-Feb-16, 03:35 AM
For the moment, I can say "I have no taste for nicotiana", which means tobacco plants in general.
Then again, why do plants evolve additive and narcotic properties in the first place?
While hemp and manijuana are the same plant, their properties are very different.
I have eaten hemp seeds once (hemp seeds are completely legal here; they are sold in supermarkets), but these aren't narcotic at all.

Ara Pacis
2015-Feb-16, 04:17 AM
First, Hemp/marijuana isn't a narcotic, it's a hallucinogenic, IIRC. Second, what makes you think plants evolved a chemical that's addictive to humans and not humans who evolved to be addicted to it. Third, there's some disagreement as to whether marijuana is actually addictive in the chemical sense. Fourth, a recent book suggests that drug addiction, in general, may be more a socialization issue than a biochemical one.

Noclevername
2015-Feb-17, 05:00 AM
They're a byproduct of a biochemical process. Occasionally they have benefits, such as to keep bugs or weeds away. That's how evolution works, hence why the plants kept it. Animals that are frequently exposed have evolved to survive the poisons, and sometimes we experience other biochemical reactions.

Cougar
2015-Feb-17, 01:23 PM
First, Hemp/marijuana isn't a narcotic, it's a hallucinogenic, IIRC.

No, it's not hallucinogenic either. Wiki calls is a "psychoactive" drug.



Third, there's some disagreement as to whether marijuana is actually addictive in the chemical sense.

I don't think there's any disagreement there, except perhaps from the uninformed "Reefer Madness" crowd. It is not physically addicting.

Cougar
2015-Feb-17, 01:37 PM
Then again, why do plants evolve additive and narcotic properties in the first place?

Hard to tell. But the only characteristics at play in evolution are survival and reproduction. Perhaps the powerful smell of these plants attracts bees and other insects, which then pollinate and otherwise help these plants to reproduce. The fact that they are psychoactive may assist with survival, or it may be a (happy?) accident.

JohnD
2015-Feb-17, 03:41 PM
http://www.academia.edu/234801/Morphine_and_Mitochondria

John