Marijuana 101

Look at pop-culture — It seems like all the “uber-cool” people are smoking pot … You’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting information about marijuana. Here’s what recent research has found.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp, or cannabis, plant. It goes by many different names—pot, herb, weed, grass—and stronger forms include sinsemilla (sin-seh-me-yah), hashish (“hash” for short), and hash oil.

Also known as ganja, weed, reefer, and grass, cannabis-marijuana is a psychoactive herb that comes from the hemp plant. This mind-altering substance is an illegal drug in most states.

How Does Marijuana Work?

All forms of marijuana are mind-altering (psychoactive). In other words, they change how the brain works. Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals, including THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Since THC is the main active chemical in marijuana, the amount of THC in marijuana determines its strength or potency and therefore its effects. The THC content of marijuana has been increasing since the 1980s.

What do people feel like when they use marijuana?

Some people feel nothing at all when they smoke marijuana. Others may feel relaxed or “high.” Some experience sudden feelings of anxiety and paranoid thoughts (even more likely with stronger varieties of marijuana). Regular use of marijuana has also been linked to depression, anxiety, and a loss of drive or motivation, which means a loss of interest even in previously enjoyable activities. Its effects can be unpredictable, especially when other drugs are mixed with it.

In the short-term, marijuana can cause:

• problems with learning and memory
• distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)
• poor motor coordination
• increased heart rate.

How long does marijuana stay in your body?

The THC in marijuana is rapidly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs throughout the body. In general, standard urine tests can detect traces (metabolites) of THC several days after use. In heavy users, however, THC metabolites can sometimes be detected for weeks after use stops.

Can it be addictive?

Yes, It can be. About 1 in 6 people who start using as a teen, and 25-50 percent of those who use it every day, become addicted to marijuana. You are more likely to get hooked if you use it every day. Also, If your are using it to get high, as opposed to a medical use, you are more likely to develop a problem.

What is Weed Addiction?

It is very similar to addiction to other drugs

  • Obsessive thinking about marijuana
  • Cravings to use marijuana
  • Tolerance — needing a higher dose to achieve the same effect
  • Uncontrolled urges to use marijuana
  • Developing negative consequences from using marijuana
  • Withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug is stopped
What is withdrawal like?

The symptoms are similar in type and severity to those of nicotine withdrawal—irritability, sleeping difficulties, anxiety, and craving—peaking a few days after regular marijuana use has stopped. Withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for someone to stay off marijuana.

What if a person wants to quit using marijuana?

There is help! Current treatment programs focus on counseling and group support systems.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Contingency management, or motivational incentives
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
Behavioral treatments

Here are two good places to find support

Marijuana Anonymous

800RecoveryHub.com
Our 800RecoveryHub site offers free and confidential help
What is K2/Spice and how does it affect the brain?

The chemicals in many products sold as K2/Spice are unknown. Some varieties could cause dramatically different effects than the user might expect. K2/Spice refers to a wide variety of chemical-coated herbal mixtures that have effects similar to marijuana and that are often sold as both a “safe” and a “legal” alternative to that drug—neither is true. Although the labels on K2/Spice products often claim that they contain “natural” psychoactive material taken from a variety of plants, chemical analyses show that their active ingredients are synthetic compounds, made artificially. Although we do not yet fully know Spice’s effects on the human brain, these compounds act in the same brain areas as THC, the main ingredient in marijuana. However, some chemicals in Spice—often of unknown origin—may produce more powerful and unpredictable effects, like extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.

References

National Institute of Drug Abuse (2014). Marijuana Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana on September 26, 2014

National Institute on Drug Abuse (2013). Want to Know More?- Some FAQs about Marijuana. In Marijuana: Facts for Teens. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/want-to-know-more-some-faqs-about-marijuana on September 26, 2014

p.s If you are looking for a way to justify your pot habit, you can read this article from High Times
http://www.hightimes.com/read/what-marijuana-addiction

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