Marijuana, also known as chronic, ganja, grass, hash, herb, mary jane, pot, reefer, sinsemilla, skunk, weed and green, is the most often used illegal drug in the country. Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis Sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most. Marijuana is categorized as a schedule 1 drug,
Users of this drug often roll loose marijuana into a cigarette called a “joint”. Marijuana can be smoked in any kind of pipe, including a water pipe called a “bong”, or mixed into food or brewed as tea. It has also appeared in cigars called “blunts”.
Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, and increased heart rate and anxiety. These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with marijuana. A user may also experience a dry mouth and throat.
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.
Many people think that smoking marijuana is fairly harmless, but this isn’t true. Marijuana use can have serious consequences on health and a person’s life in general and it is considered to be psychologically addictive.
Behavioral Signs of Marijuana Use May Include:
- Lack of motivation or ambition for activities that once excited the user.
- Performance in school or in the workplace will begin to decline, coupled with a sense of apathy towards this decline.
- Withdrawal from the family system – This is most often the case with adolescents and young adults, but can be a warning sign for adults as well.
- Drastic change in peer group – An addict will often abandon peer groups in favor of those who share similar desires and behaviors, namely those engaging in drug use.
- Personal hygiene may begin to suffer as he or she is less concerned with their public appearance.
- Depressive style of mood. Marijuana addicts manifest many of the same characteristics as those suffering from depression. An addict will have a flat affect and mood; he or she will appear lazy and day-to-day functioning will start to deteriorate.
- Aversive, avoidant behavior