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With the growing movement to legalize marijuana in the United States, the drug is in the news more than ever before. But how much do you really know about it? Here we offer the on


Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Stronger forms of the drug include high potency strains - known as sinsemilla sin-seh-me-yahhashish hash for shortand extracts. In other words, it's what makes a person high. Read 10 things you can learn about marijuana. The amount of THC in marijuana has increased over the past few decades. In the early s, the average THC content in marijuana was less than 4 percent.

It is now about 15 percent and much higher in some products such as oils and other extracts see below. Some people adjust how they consume marijuana by smoking or eating less to compensate for the greater potency. There have been reports of people seeking help in emergency rooms with symptoms, including nervousness, shaking and psychosis having false thoughts or seeing or hearing things that aren't thereafter consuming high concentrations of THC. Smoking extracts and resins from the marijuana plant with high levels of THC is on the rise.

There are several forms of these extracts. These resins have 3 to 5 times more THC than the plant itself.

Smoking or vaping it also called dabbing can deliver dangerous amounts of THC and has led some people to seek treatment in the emergency room. There have also been reports of people injured in fires and explosions caused by attempts to extract hash oil from marijuana leaves using butane lighter fluid.

Unlike marijuana, their use sometimes directly in overdose deaths. All drugs change the way the brain works by changing the way nerve cells communicate.

Nerve cells, called neurons, send messages to each other by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters attach to molecules on neurons called receptors.

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Learn more about how neurotransmitters work. Drugs affect this aling process. When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries it to organs throughout the body, including the brain. Its effects begin almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours. This can affect decision making, concentration, and memory for days after use, especially in people who use marijuana regularly.

The dope on dope: 8 facts about marijuana

As it enters the brain, THC attaches to cells, or neurons, with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Normally, these receptors are activated by chemicals similar to THC that occur naturally in the body. They are part of a communication network in the brain called the endocannabinoid system. This system is important in normal brain development and function. Most of the cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

Marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system, which causes the "high" and stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain's reward centers, reinforcing the behavior. Other effects include changes in perceptions and mood, lack of coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory. Learn more about how the brain works and what happens when a person uses drugs.


An evidence based review of acute and long-term effects of cannabis use on executive cognitive functions. Journal of Addiction Medicine ; While these and other effects seem harmless, they can take a toll on the body. Mixing marijuana with alcohol can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure. It can also cause further slowing of the ability to think, solve problems, and react. Washington, DC, January 12, There are generally no reports of people fatally overdosing dying on marijuana alone.

However, people can feel some very uncomfortable side effects, especially when using marijuana with high THC levels. There are reports of people who use marijuana seeking treatment in emergency rooms, reporting unease and shaking, anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations, and in rare cases, extreme psychotic reactions.

Learn more about drug overdoses among youth. However, marijuana use can increase risks for accidents and injuries impacts of drugged driving are discussed below.

What is marijuana?

Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts. Drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers. Washington, DC, November National adolescent drug trends in Findings released [Press release]. Ann Arbor, MI. December Approximately 10 percent of people who use marijuana may develop What is smoking dope is called a marijuana use disorder—problems with their health, school, friendships, family or other conflicts in their life.

A serious substance use disorder is commonly called an addiction. What causes one person to become addicted to marijuana while another does not depends on many factors—including their family history geneticsthe age they start using, if they also use other drugs, their family and friend relationships, and if they take part in positive activities like school, after school clubs or or sports.

More research needs to be done to determine if people who use marijuana for medical reasons are at the same risk for addiction as those who use it just to get high. Watch the Swiss Cheese Model of Drug Addiction and learn why some people who use drugs become addicted and others do not. People who use marijuana may feel a mild withdrawal when they stop using the drug, but might not recognize their symptoms as drug withdrawal.

These symptoms may include:.

These effects can last for several days to a few weeks after drug use is stopped. JAMA Psychiatry.

Likelihood of developing an alcohol and cannabis use disorder during youth: association with recent use and age. Drug Alcohol Depend.

MTF Data. Explore teen substance use trends over time, by grade and substance with an interactive chart featuring Monitoring the Future data from to present. The marijuana plant itself has not been approved as a medicine by the federal government.

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However, the plant contains chemicals—called cannabinoids—that may be useful for treating a range of illnesses or symptoms. Here are some samples of cannabinoids that have been approved or are being tested as medicines:. It is important to remember that smoking marijuana can have side effects, making it difficult to develop as a medicine. For example, it can harm lung health, impair judgment, and affect memory. Side effects like this might outweigh its value as a medical treatment, especially for people who are not very sick. Another problem with smoking or eating marijuana plant material is that the ingredients can vary a lot from plant to plant, so it is difficult to get an exact dose.

Until a medicine can be proven safe and effective, it will not be approved by the federal government. But researchers continue to extract and test the chemicals in marijuana to create safe medicines.

A weed by any other name…

So, in some cases, federal and state marijuana laws conflict. It is illegal to grow, buy, sell, or carry marijuana under federal law. The federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I substance—having no medicinal uses and high risk for misuse. It is important to note that because of concerns over the possible harm to the developing teen brain, non-medical marijuana use by people under age 21 is against the law in all states.

You can get “high”

If a friend is using drugs, you might have to step away from the friendship for a while. It is important to protect your own mental health and not put yourself in situations where drugs are being used. Of the more than chemicals in marijuana, THC is the main one that causes a person to feel high Marijuana withdrawal can lead to symptoms like depression, anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, and more. This lesson, provides scientific information about teen brain development and the effect of drugs and alcohol use on the brain.

A visually appealing booklet for students that explains how marijuana changes the way the communication centers in the brain work Content on this site is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA.

Can you get addicted to cannabis?

Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Expand All How is marijuana used? There are a few different ways people use marijuana: smoking hand-rolled cigarettes called ts or marijuana cigars called blunts often made by slicing open cigars and replacing some or all of the tobacco with marijuana inhaling smoke using glass pipes or water pipes called bongs inhaling vapor using devices that pull the active ingredients including THC from the marijuana into the vapor. Some vaporizers use a marijuana liquid extract. What happens to your brain when you use marijuana?

What happens to your body when you use marijuana?

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