Marijuana is a brown, green, or gray mixture of shredded, dried leaves, seeds, stems, and flowers from Cannabis sativa, a hemp plant. Sinsemilla hash (hashish) and hash oil are the strongest forms of marijuana. This drug is used as a recreational substance for its psychoactive properties. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main active chemical in marijuana, and the high concentrations of this chemical are in the flowers and leaves. THC passes from the lungs to the blood stream when smoked, and then the brain and other organs receive the THC-rich blood. The chemical works on specific brain receptors, known as cannabinoid receptors, causing a chain of cellular reactions that induce euphoria (a high).
Areas of the brain affected by marijuana influence concentration, memory, coordination, pleasure, sensory perception, and time perception. These functions are adversely affected by marijuana use. The strength of marijuana is correlated with the THC concentration and potency. Confiscated marijuana in the U.S. contained around 10 percent of THC, according to a report in 2007. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in America. Approximately 140 million teens and adults use marijuana at least once in 2008, and it was used by over 75 percent of surveyed people at some point during the past 30 days.
In America, marijuana is a Schedule I substance, but prescription medicines with synthetic THC are available as Schedule II drugs (Marinol and Cesamet). These medications are often used by patients receiving chemotherapy to control nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss. Also, Marinol was approved to treat weight loss, loss of appetite, and fatigue in HIV patients. Several studies confirm prescription THC products are useful for neuropathic pain, chronic pain, and cancer-related pain. Additionally, marijuana has been used to treat glaucoma to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), but it is not yet FDA-approved for this.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in America. Approximately 140 million teens and adults use marijuana at least once in 2008, and it was used by over 75 percent of surveyed people at some point during the past 30 days.
Side Effects of Marijuana
The effects related to marijuana vary from person to person, and it really depends on the strength and amount used and whether the user is a chronic or occasional smoker. Short-term effects include:
- Increased heart rate
- Difficult with problem-solving and thinking
- Loss of coordination and motor skills
- Distorted perception
- Dry mouth
- Delated reaction time
- Panic attacks, paranoia, and psychosis
Marijuana is a highly addictive drug, as it leads to uncontrollable, compulsive drug cravings, drug seeking behavior, and habitual use. Research proves that around 9 percent of marijuana smokers become addicted, with higher rates in users who are young. However, not everyone who tries or occasionally uses marijuana becomes addicted. Long-term users who attempt to quit experience decreased appetite, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, and persistent drug cravings. These symptoms peak around 2 to 3 days after the person ceases marijuana use, and they take up to 2 weeks to stop.