Marijuana Overview

Marijuana Overview

Marijuana (grass, pot, weed) is the common name for a crude drug made from the plant Cannabis. The main mind-altering (psychoactive) ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), but more than 400 other chemicals also are in the plant. A marijuana “joint” (cigarette) is made from the dried particles of the plant. The amount of THC in the marijuana determines how strong its effects will be. The type of plant, the weather, the soil, the time of harvest, and other factors determine the strength of marijuana. The strength of today’s marijuana is as much as 10 times greater than the marijuana used in the early 1970s. This more potent marijuana increases physical and mental effects and the possibility of health problems for the user. (see marijuana abuse.)

Cannabis, or marijuana, is the most commonly used illegal drug. It can be smoked or eaten and comes in a variety of forms such as dried plant leaves and flowers (‘heads’), a crumbly light brown or dark brown resinous material called ‘hash’, or in the form of a very strong oil called ‘hash oil’.

Many people think marijuana is harmless. It is not. Signs of marijuana use include red eyes, lethargy and uncoordinated body movements. The long-term effects may include decrease in motivation and harmful effects on the brain, heart, lung and reproductive system. People who smoke marijuana are more likely to develop cancer of the head and neck. The chance of developing cancer in places such as the mouth, tongue, larynx or pharynx increases the more often a person smokes marijuana and the longer they continue its use.

Marijuana is the nation’s most commonly used illicit drug. More than 83 million Americans (37 percent) age 12 and older have tried marijuana at least once, according to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). The most used illegal drug in the United States is marijuana. Marijuana has maintained its popularity for decades as the number one illicit drug in America. Marijuana is often considered “safe,” and is also considered a “gateway drug” because of the perception by many of its users that it is mostly harmless. However, marijuana is a mind altering substance and it does have very real and lasting effects on the body.

Effects of Marijuana Use

Marijuana use has some short-term and long-term effects. Short-term effects including distorted perception, problems with memory and learning, loss of coordination, increased heart rate and reduced blood pressure.

Some of the long-term effects are:

  • Short-term memory impairment and slowness of learning
  • Impaired lung function similar to that found in cigarette smokers
  • Decreased sperm count and sperm motility
  • Interference with ovulation and pre-natal development.
  • Impaired immune response
  • Possible adverse effects on heart function

Marijuana comes in three different forms. Each form of marijuana has a varying level of addictive qualities that are based on how and where it was grown and the THC levels.

  • Marijuana is the most common and least powerful form of cannabis. It is made from dried plant leaves and flowers. The flowers, or ‘heads,’ are the most potent forms of the plant. Marijuana resembles chopped grass and ranges in color from grey-green to greenish-brown. It is usually smoked in a pipe, a waterpipe (bong) or a hand-rolled cigarette (joint).
  • Hashish consists of small blocks of dried cannabis resin. Blocks range in color from light brown to nearly black. The concentration of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) in hashish is higher than in marijuana.
  • Hash oil is a thick, oily liquid extracted from hashish and ranges in color from golden-brown to black. It is usually spread on the tip of paper or cigarettes and then smoked. Hash oil is more powerful than the other forms of cannabis.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing effects of marijuana use and needsmarijuana drug rehabilitation options or have questions concerning the forms of marijuana and their use, please contact our toll free number at (877) 714-1320.