Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. It is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Cannabis contains a chemical called THC (Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is a mind-altering drug. People usually take it for the effects it has on their mood and their feelings. THC is also a depressant drug, that is, it slows the brain down, particularly if taken in high doses. It can give people hallucinations, make them feel sedated or sleepy or it can act as a stimulant.
Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint, nail), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug. It might also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form it is called hashish and, as a sticky black liquid, hash oil.
Individuals of all ages use marijuana–data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicate that 37 percent of U.S. residents aged 12 and older used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. The survey also revealed that a significant percentage of teenagers and young adults use marijuana–20 percent of individuals aged 12 to 17 and 50 percent of individuals aged 18 to 25 used the drug at least once
Many people don’t think of marijuana as addictive—they are wrong. About 9 percent of people who use marijuana become dependent on it. The number increases to about one in six among those who start using it at a young age, and to 25 to 50 percent among daily users. Marijuana increases dopamine, which creates the good feelings or “high” associated with its use. A user may feel the urge to smoke marijuana again, and again, and again to re-create that experience. Repeated use could lead to addiction—a disease where people continue to do something, even when they are aware of the severe negative consequences at the personal, social, academic, and professional levels.
People who use marijuana may also experience a withdrawal syndrome when they stop using the drug. It is similar to what happens to tobacco smokers when they quit—people report being irritable, having sleep problems, and weight loss—effects which can last for several days to a few weeks after drug use is stopped. Relapse is common during this period, as users also crave the drug to relieve these symptoms.
Marijuana short term effects
Some people may feel chilled out, relaxed and happy, while others have one puff and feel sick. Others get the giggles and may become talkative. Hunger pangs are common and are known as ‘getting the munchies’. Users may become more aware of their senses or get a feeling of slowing of time, which are due to its hallucinogenic effects.
People who are intoxicated on cannabis usually feel more sensitive to things around them and sensations can seem different. For example, time can seem to slow down, colours seem brighter and richer and new details and meanings can be seen in things. People concentrate less well, often talk and laugh more than usual and can have problems with their balance.
Using marijuana can be especially dangerous in certain situations, such as when you are driving, because your reaction time is slower. This make it more difficult to react to a dangerous situation, which could cause an accident.
Marijuana long-term effects
Using weed regularly over a long time can lead to a state called “burnout.” A person who is in this pattern tends to be inattentive. They can be described as dull, and being burned out from marijuana abuse affects their performance at work or at school. Personal relationships suffer because the user just doesn’t have the ability to fully participate in them. When burnout is especially pronounced, the pot user may not be able to respond to other people at all. They are in their own world.
Other common effects of marijuana:
- Trouble remembering things
- Slowed reaction time
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increase in testosterone levels for women and increased risk of infertility
- Diminished or extinguished sexual pleasure
- Psychological dependence
- Paranoia (feeling that people are “out to get you”)
- Altered time perception
- Red, bloodshot eyes
- Daily cough and phlegm production
- More frequent acute chest illnesses
- Increased risk of lung infections