Marijuana is a mixture of dried flowers, leaves, stems and seeds obtained from the “cannabis sativa” or “cannabis indica” plant. Commonly known as weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja and Mary Jane, marijuana contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for creating mind-altering effects in individuals.
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), out of the total number of individuals aged 12 or older, approximately 24 million were current marijuana users and 3.3 million were current misusers of prescription pain relievers.
Marijuana is considered as a “gateway” drug because of its strong addiction potential. It can be inhaled or the active ingredients, THC and CBD, can be baked into food known as edibles. Hashish is a related form of marijuana made from the resins of the Indian hemp plant. It is commonly referred to as hash and, on average, is six times stronger than marijuana.
When marijuana is inhaled, it causes an increase in dopamine levels in the human body, which, in turn, causes a decreased response in the long run. Inhaling marijuana over a long period of time can lead to the development of tolerance and hence, addiction.
Such a person is also at risk of experimenting with other drugs. Although marijuana use does not directly lead to the abuse of other illicit drugs, its addiction potential is so high that the user may need to undergo a detoxification treatment or assistance from a rehab center to attain recovery.
Legalization of marijuana
Legalizing this drug has created ambivalence among teenagers. In fact, many adolescents now openly admit to using marijuana. But, this drug continues to remain in controversy due to its adverse effects on memory and resulting learning deficits, blunted emotions and behavioral problems in the younger population, etc.
Although marijuana is addictive, this drug, as well as its withdrawal symptoms, are not considered life-threatening. Moreover, this drug has long been in use for medical practices as it can help alleviate some medical conditions.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit substance in the United States. However, the laws and regulations have become more relaxed over the past couple of years. Till date, a total of 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs. Whereas, recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and Washington, D.C. However, it is still considered a Schedule I drug and users may need help overcoming addiction to the substance.