Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in America. As more and more states are beginning to pass laws making marijuana legal, many mistakenly believe marijuana isn’t really a problem. The marijuana of today is much more potent than what it was in the ’60s, and marijuana addiction can ruin lives.
Marijuana is a green, brown or gray mixture of dried shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers from the hemp plant (or Cannabis sativa). The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Street names for marijuana include pot, weed, ganja, grass, herb, Mary Jane and chronic.
Loose marijuana is typically rolled into cigarettes called joints, or it is smoked in a water pipe known as a bong. The substance can also mixed into food or brewed as tea.
How Widespread is Marijuana Use?
According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 15 million Americans aged 12 or older reported marijuana use in the previous month, earning marijuana the title of the most-used illicit drug in the nation. Psychotherapeutic drugs, with more than 6 million users, placed a distant second.
Effects of Marijuana
Marijuana produces a high in which users experience distorted perception, impaired problem solving skills, increased heart rate, dry mouth and anxiety. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. Chronic marijuana users may experience the following aditional stress on the heart, reproductive system problems, difficulty concentrating and weakened immune system.
Over the years, studies have found some positive uses for marijuana. For example, cancer patients and others with chronic pain find marijuana helps with pain or anxiety. It can also help relieve nausea and stimulate appetite.
The main concern with marijuana is that it does affect the brain, and it can influence the choices people make and the activities they participate in. We don't want our kids to be smoking marijuana when they should be learning at school or participating in sports or extracurricular activities. We don't want our employees doing pot because it makes them less productive. We don't want our neighbors selling pot because it can lead to violence and the wrong crowd hanging around. While marijuana might not be the most devastating drug to most people, it does have negative effects.