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MarijuanaFactSheet.com is brought to you by AllNetHealth.com and is intended to provide basic information that you can use to make informed decisions about important health issues affecting you or your loved ones. We hope that you’ll find this information about Marijuana helpful and that you’ll seek professional medical advice to address any specific symptoms you might have related to this matter.

In addition to this site, we have created the "Healthpedia Network" of sites to provide specific information on a wide variety of health topics.

 

 

What is marijuana?

What are other names for marijuana?

Is marijuana addictive?

How is marijuana used?

What are the acute effects of marijuana use?

How does marijuana use affect physical health?

What treatments are available for marijuana?

Where can I buy a home drug test for marijuana?

 

 

What is marijuana? (top)

Marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of Cannabis sativa, the hemp plant. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes the mind-altering effects of marijuana intoxication.

 

What are other names for marijuana? (top)

There are countless street terms for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, ganja, and hash.

 

Is marijuana addictive? (top)

Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction for some people; that is, they use the drug compulsively even though it often interferes with family, school, work, and recreational activities.
 

Along with craving, withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana smokers to stop using the drug. People trying to quit report irritability, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. They also display increased aggression on psychological tests, peaking approximately 1 week after they last used the drug.

 

How is marijuana used? (top)

Marijuana usually is smoked as a cigarette (joint, nail), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug. It might also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form it is called hashish and, as a sticky black liquid, hash oil.

Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor.

 

What are the acute effects of marijuana use? (top)

When marijuana is smoked, its effects begin immediately after the drug enters the brain and last from 1 to 3 hours. If marijuana is consumed in food or drink, the short-term effects begin more slowly, usually in 1/2 to 1 hour, and last longer, for as long as 4 hours. Smoking marijuana deposits several times more THC into the blood than does eating or drinking the drug.
 

Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual's heart begins beating more rapidly, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red.
 

As THC enters the brain, it causes a user to feel euphoric - or "high" - by acting in the brain's reward system, areas of the brain that respond to stimuli such as food and drink as well as most drugs of abuse. THC activates the reward system in the same way that nearly all drugs of abuse do, by stimulating brain cells to release the chemical dopamine.
 

A marijuana user may experience pleasant sensations, colors and sounds may seem more intense, and time appears to pass very slowly. The user's mouth feels dry, and he or she may suddenly become very hungry and thirsty. His or her hands may tremble and grow cold. The euphoria passes after awhile, and then the user may feel sleepy or depressed. Occasionally, marijuana use produces anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic.

 

How does marijuana use affect physical health? (top)

Marijuana use can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, often accompanied by a heavy cough. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency toward obstructed airways.
 

Cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs may also be promoted by marijuana smoke. A study comparing 173 cancer patients and 176 healthy individuals produced strong evidence that smoking marijuana increases the likelihood of developing cancer of the head or neck, and that the more marijuana smoked, the greater the increase. A statistical analysis of the data suggested that marijuana smoking doubled or tripled the risk of these cancers.
 

Marijuana has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because it contains irritants and carcinogens. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. It also produces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into their carcinogenic form, levels that may accelerate the changes that ultimately produce malignant cells. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which increases the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. These facts suggest that, puff for puff, smoking marijuana may increase the risk of cancer more than smoking tobacco does.

 

What treatments are available for marijuana? (top)

Treatment programs directed solely at marijuana abuse are rare, partly because many who use marijuana do so in combination with other drugs, such as cocaine and alcohol. However, with more people seeking help to control marijuana abuse, research has focused on ways to overcome problems with abuse of this drug.

 

No medications are now available to treat marijuana abuse. However, recent discoveries about the workings of THC receptors have raised the possibility that scientists may eventually develop a medication that will block THC's intoxicating effects. Such a medication might be used to prevent relapse to marijuana abuse by reducing or eliminating its appeal.

 

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