Cannabis refers to the dried leaves, stems, flowers and seeds of the hemp plant hemp. The main active ingredient in cannabis is the thinking-changing chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Marijuana is the most common illegal drug in the United States. According to the 2018 National Drug Abuse and Health Survey, approximately 43.5 million Americans over the age of 12 smoked marijuana last year.
As of the 2018 midterm elections, 10 states and Washington, DC have legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults over 21 years of age. More than 30 states have enacted laws to legalize marijuana only for medical use, while several other states only legalize oils containing cannabinoids. Low THC content. Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal.
Also known as: Cannabis has more than 200 slang terms, including pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, prosperity, marijuana, hash, Mary Jane, marijuana, bubble gum, northern lights, juice, gangster, Afghanistan#1, skunk , And chronic.
Drug category: Marijuana is usually classified as a sedative, although it also has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.
Common side effects: The side effects of marijuana use include sensory changes, mood changes, difficulty thinking, and impaired memory. At high doses, it can cause hallucinations, psychosis, and delusions.
What does marijuana do?
The membranes of certain nerve cells in the brain contain receptors that bind to THC, triggering a series of cellular responses, and ultimately causing people to experience orgasms when using marijuana. People use this drug because it improves their mood and relaxes them. Depending on the level of THC, people may also experience euphoria, hallucinations, and paranoia.
The most common way to use marijuana is by smoking. It is usually rolled into a cigarette “joint”, added to an empty cigar sleeve to form a “blunt”, or “smoked” in a pipe or water pipe.
A new popular method of use is to smoke or consume different forms of THC-rich resin extracted from the cannabis plant. It can also be baked into food (called edible food), such as brownies, biscuits, or candies, or brewed into tea.
What the experts say
Smoking marijuana is particularly problematic among young people because it can have long-term effects on mental abilities including memory, learning, and thinking. A 2012 study found that participants who started smoking marijuana during their teenage years had an average IQ drop of 8 points.
Since the most common method of use is smoking, the use of marijuana also brings respiratory risks and other risks associated with smoking. Smoking marijuana may increase the risk of wheezing, shortness of breath, and chronic coughing. According to a review published in 2015, there are mixed studies on whether smoking marijuana increases the risk of cancer. Some studies indicate that the risk may increase, while others have found that the use of marijuana may actually have a protective effect.
There is evidence that exposure to marijuana may make it easier to use “harder” drugs. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated that most people who use marijuana will not continue to become addicted to other substances.
Despite these risks, people still have reasons to choose to continue using marijuana. A study published in 2016 found that people reported that the use of marijuana can:
- Relieve stress or tension
- Escape the troubles of life
- Relieve boredom
- Feel good or euphoric
- Adapt to society
Off-label or recently approved use
In addition to being used as a recreational drug, cannabis has a long history of medicinal use. Although it has not yet been approved by the FDA, many states in the United States have legalized cannabis, at least for certain medical purposes.
Medical marijuana is used to treat the symptoms of a disease, not to treat the disease itself. Research in 2017 showed that cannabis is the most effective in treating muscle cramps, chronic pain and nausea, helping to relieve symptoms of diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and epilepsy.
Some of the conditions that many states have approved for medical marijuana treatment include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Eating disorder
- Severe pain
- Severe nausea
- Persistent muscle cramps
- Wasting syndrome
Further research on the potential benefits of medical marijuana is ongoing. As researchers investigate these uses, the generally accepted and legally approved use of marijuana to treat or relieve symptoms will continue to evolve.
As of 2019, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and Washington, DC
Common side effects
Some common side effects of marijuana use include dry mouth, swollen eyelids, eye congestion, loss of coordination, and increased heart rate.
Short-term risks include:
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Memory loss
- Difficulty thinking
- Learning difficulties
- Lack of attention and focus
- Poor driving skills
Potential long-term risks include:
- Respiratory problems
- Increased risk of infection, especially in the lungs
- Poor short-term memory
- Cognitive impairment
- Lack of motivation
People who regularly smoke marijuana may also have many of the same respiratory problems as smokers, including daily coughing and sputum production, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. Continuing to smoke marijuana can cause abnormal lung tissue damage or destruction by marijuana smoke.
Although some of these risks cannot be mitigated, if you choose to smoke, you can take some measures to solve (at least partially) some of the above risks.
Signs of use
Marijuana can be consumed in many ways, but smoking is the most common method. If you suspect that someone you know is abusing marijuana for entertainment, you may notice some of the following signs:
- Keep secret
- Increased cravings for food
- Bloodshot eyes
- Poor time management
- Drug paraphernalia (for example, tubes, bags, rolls of paper)
It is important to remember that many of these signs may be caused by other things, or they may simply be changes in normal behavior. Pay attention to group behavior instead of single behavior as evidence of drug use.
Tolerance, dependence and withdrawal
Studies have shown that regular use of marijuana may lead to tolerance. When tolerance occurs, larger and larger doses or more frequent use are required to achieve the same effect. In a 2018 study, researchers found that compared with infrequent smoking, the effects of regular cannabis smoking were less obvious. The study also found that the physiological, behavioral, and cognitive effects of cannabis diminish with repeated exposure.
How long does marijuana stay in your system?
How long cannabis stays in your body may depend on the dosage and frequency of use. In general, marijuana may be detected in a urine test for up to 13 days after use, but regular use may result in a longer detection window. The type of test used also affects the detection window. Although marijuana can only be detected in the blood within a few hours, it can be detected for up to 90 days through a hair follicle test.
Today’s marijuana usually contains much higher THC levels than in the past, which increases its addictiveness. Although not common, repeated use of marijuana can lead to mental and physical dependence. The Centers for Disease Control reports that as many as one in ten people who use marijuana are addicted.
Research published in 2015 showed that in 2012 and 2013, more than 30% of marijuana users in the United States suffered from use disorders. People who have a long history of marijuana use are more likely to become addicted. People who started using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to become addicted than adults aged 22-26.
If a drug causes someone to crave, seek, and use it compulsively and often uncontrollably, even in the face of negative health and social consequences, it is considered addictive. Cannabis meets this standard.
Drug use and withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult for people who regularly smoke cannabis to stop taking drugs. Some common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal that people report include:
- hard to fall asleep
- Craving for drugs
- Decreased appetite
- Mood changes
- Chills and sweating
These symptoms can range from mild to more severe. These withdrawal symptoms can usually be self-managed, but if they become severe, persistent, or have symptoms of depression, you should consult your doctor.
Very Good / Gary Fest
How to get help
The treatment of cannabis use usually utilizes counseling and psychotherapy. The goal is to help people learn new behaviors and resolve any additional addictions or co-occurring mental illnesses.
Forms of counseling or treatment that may be effective include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Individual or group counselling
- Family therapy
- Support groups
Although there are no approved drugs for the treatment of cannabis disease, antidepressants and other drugs can be used to treat symptoms of conditions such as depression or anxiety.
If marijuana smoking becomes a problem for you, please consult your doctor or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s national hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).