5 Things You Need To Know About Marijuana

A discussion on marijuana can be a very complicated one. For a long time marijuana has been thought of almost exclusively as a drug. Technically the word drug means any substance that has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body but for a long time it has had a very negative connotation. Even though any medicine is technically a drug most Americans would rarely call something prescribed by a doctor a 'drug.' That word is referred solely for the kinds of substances that are usually bought in back allies illegally. This idea of what a drug is has become less and less clear as many doctors have started prescribing marijuana for medicinal uses.


Over the years, as this practice has increased, people have become more and more accustomed to the idea that marijuana may actually be helpful. Now with the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado for uses other than medicine the classification of marijuana as a ‘drug’ has become much more uncertain. Some may cheer this trend but it might not be such a good thing.

Before taking a stand on the marijuana issue it is important to make sure that you have a sure understanding of what marijuana is and what it can do. Here are five basic facts that everybody should know about it:

  • Marijuana a mixture of the shredded flowers and leaves, which is gray and green in color, of the hemp plant called Cannabis sativa. There are countless slang terms used for marijuana including "weed," "pot," "herb," "Mary Jane," "boom," "gangster," and "chronic." It is typically consumed by smoking it rolled up like a cigarette or in a pipe.
  • Marijuana has a few short-term effects which include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception; loss of coordination; difficulty in thinking and problem-solving; and increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks.
  • Marijuana has some long-term effects as well. Marijuana contains toxins and cancer-causing chemicals which are stored in fat cells. Marijuana often causes the same health problems as tobacco, such as bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. Use over a long period of time has been shown to increase risk to the lungs and reproductive system, as well as suppression of the immune system. Occasionally other side-effects such as hallucinations, fantasies and paranoia are also reported.

There are a few signs that are typically seen in people abusing marijuana. These signs include rapid, loud talking and bursts of laughter during the early stages of intoxication; sleepiness or extreme drowsiness in later stages of intoxication; forgetfulness in conversation; distorted perception of time (a tendency to overestimate the amount of time that has passed); a craving for sweets; and an increased appetite.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse "Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States." After declining for a decade its use has increased among young people since 2007. This increase probably is due to the diminishing perception of the drug's risks.


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