MARIJUANA

Common Drug Names:

Bud, dope, ganja, grass, weed, trees, skunk, smoke, Aunt Mary, BC bud, blunts, boom, gangster, hash, hydro, indo, joint, kif, mota, yerba, pot, reefer, sinsemilla, herb, Mary Jane, green, chronic

The main psychoactive(mind-altering) chemical in marijuana, responsible for most of the intoxicating effects that people seek, is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The chemical is found in resin produced by the leaves and buds primarily of the female cannabis plant. The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals, including more than 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC, called cannabinoids.

 

Marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried flowers of Cannabis sativa. Some people smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints; in pipes, water pipes (sometimes called bongs), or in blunts (marijuana rolled in cigar wraps). Marijuana can also be used to brew tea and, particularly when it is sold or consumed for medicinal purposes, is frequently mixed into foods (edibles) such as brownies, cookies, or candies. Vaporizers are also increasingly used to consume marijuana. Stronger forms of marijuana include sinsemilla (from specially tended female plants) and concentrated resins containing high doses of marijuana’s active ingredients, including honeylike hash oil, waxy budder, and hard amberlike shatter. These resins are increasingly popular among those who use them both recreationally and medically.

Marijuana intoxication produces effects including:

  • Altered sense of time.
  • Impaired memory.
  • Slowed reflexes and impaired motor skills.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Cognitive impairments.

Long-term detrimental effects of marijuana may include:

Respiratory problems: Marijuana smoke has many of the same irritating and lung-damaging properties as tobacco smoke. Long-term users may develop a chronic cough and are at higher risk of lung infections.

Cardiovascular risk: Marijuana ingestion increases the heart rate for several hours, increasing the chance of heart attack or stroke. This may aggravate pre-existing heart conditions in long-term users and those who are older—placing them at greater risk of a cardiovascular event.

Mental health effects: Long-term marijuana use can decrease an individual’s performance on memory-related tasks and cause a decrease in motivation and interest in everyday activities. Marijuana is also known to intensify symptoms in users with schizophrenia.

Child development: Marijuana use during pregnancy can affect the development of the fetus’s brain and has been linked to behavioral problems in babies.

Psychological dependence: Like most other drugs of abuse, individuals who use marijuana for long periods of time can develop a dependence on it. Signs of dependence in a user include the need to use marijuana to cope with everyday tasks and the experience of cravings and anxiety when marijuana is not available.

Marijuana abuse can lead to dependence and withdrawal upon cessation of use. Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression

Marijuana addiction can be treated by a rehabilitation center or in outpatient treatment. Behavioral interventions, which may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, are used to help during rehabilitation therapy.

DRUG TRENDS

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in the United States, and its use is growing.

Marijuana use is widespread among adolescents and young adults. Teens’ perceptions of the risks of marijuana use have steadily declined over the past decade, possibly related to increasing public debate about legalizing or loosening restrictions on marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. Learn more about the scope of marijuana use in the United States.

— Data trend images from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, (NIDA)