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Substance Abuse - Marijuana

Commonly Known As: Bud, grass, ganja, herb, Mary Jane, pot, reefer, skunk, weed. There are over 200 slang words for marijuana.

Access to Drug: Marijuana is very easy to grow and there are many web sites with tips on growing pot. Usually bought from a dealer unless homegrown. It is illegal and arrests can be made for possession, transporting, sales and driving under the influence.

Scientific Name: Cannabis; the active ingredient is THC.

Interesting Facts: Most widely used and abused drug in the world today and first evident more than 4,700 years ago when listed by Chinese Emperor Shen-nung in a medicinal guide. Controversial today due to claims that marijuana is helpful today for medicinal purposes. Continues to be the most widely abused drug by adolescents. One third of the US population has used marijuana at least once in their lifetime.

Methods of Use: Smoked in "joints" (hand rolled marijuana cigarettes), "blunts" (combined tobacco / marijuana cigarettes), bongs or other solid pipes, tin foil pipes; or swallowed in food, such as "gooey balls" (marijuana laced peanut butter balls) or marijuana brownies; or cooked into soups. Often used in combination with other drugs (especially nicotine and cocaine) and/or alcohol.

Common Effects When Intoxicated: Maladaptive behavioral or psychological changes including impaired motor coordination, euphoria, anxiety, sensation of slowed time, impaired judgment, social withdrawal, conjunctival injection ("bloodshot" eyes), increased appetite, dry mouth, tachycardia (rapid heart beat). Perceptual disturbances, when present, include auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations or illusions. Regular use of marijuana can lead to physical and mental lethargy, a lack of pleasure in daily activities, depression, anxiety, irritability, and paranoia.

Duration of Intoxication: Intoxication develops within minutes if smoked, but may take an hour or longer if eaten. The effects typically last three or four hours if smoked and somewhat longer if ingested. The intensity of the symptoms of intoxication depends on the method of administration, the amount of drug taken, and individual characteristics of the user. Symptoms of intoxication can recur for 12-24 hours after use due to a slow release of THC from the body. Indeed, THC can stay in the body for up to 30 days depending on level of use.

Withdrawal: Includes inability to concentrate, insomnia, depression, amotivation, headaches.

Effects of Long Term Use: Long-term effects include learning problems, impaired judgment, reasoning skills, and short-term memory disruption.

Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction: Marijuana is a drug that can lead to abuse, psychological but not physical dependence, and addiction.

Associated Risks: Fatal traffic accidents are more common for people who have THC in their system than for sober individuals. Chronic cough from smoking, nasal damage, weight gain, sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung diseases; increased risk of lung cancer is also possible.


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