Marijuana refers to preparations of the cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug. The typical herbal form of marijuana consists of the flowers, leaves, and stalks of female plants. The drug’s resinous form is known as hashish (or hash). The major psychoactive chemical compound in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol). Common short-term physical and neurological effects include change in perception and mood, increased heart rate, lowered blood pressure, short-term memory impairment, working memory, psychomotor coordination and concentration. Long-term effects are less clear, although marijuana use has been assessed by several studies to be correlated with the development of anxiety, psychosis and depression.
Weed, Mary Jane and Dope are among the many street names for marijuana, the most popular street drug in the United States today. Illegal under federal law in the U.S. (except for medicinal use in some states), four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska) and the District of Columbia have made recreational marijuana legal. In 2013, 19.8 million people in the U.S. used marijuana in the past month. Generally smoked in a joint or in a bong, a type of water pipe, marijuana can also be brewed as tea or put in food. Cigars, known as “blunts,” may also contain marijuana. When smoked, marijuana’s THC effects are quickly felt and last up to three hours. High doses are more likely obtained from eating marijuana-laced food rather than from smoking. Long-term users are also at risk for physical problems with the lungs, as well as cancer. According to the U.N.’s 2009 World Drug Report, the dangers of marijuana use are far more serious than most people believe. Marijuana available today is much more potent than strains used back in the 1970s and can cause permanent brain damage. Most people do not become addicted, but among chronic users, the addiction rate is around 10%, similar to alcoholism rates. Chronic marijuana users who cannot stop may require residential rehab.