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Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant see " Marijuana Extracts ". Marijuana is the most commonly used addictive drug after tobacco and alcohol. In , more than In addition, the of young people who believe regular marijuana use is risky is decreasing. Legalization of marijuana for medical use or adult recreational use in a growing of states may affect these views.
about marijuana as medicine in our DrugFacts: Marijuana as Medicine. People smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes ts or in pipes or water pipes bongs. They also smoke it in blunts—emptied cigars that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana.
To avoid inhaling smoke, some people are using vaporizers. These devices pull the active ingredients including THC from the marijuana and collect their vapor in a storage unit. A person then inhales the vapor, not the smoke. Some vaporizers use a liquid marijuana extract. People can mix marijuana in food edibles , such as brownies, cookies, or candy, or brew it as a tea. A newly popular method of use is smoking or eating different forms of THC-rich resins see " Marijuana Extracts ". These extracts can deliver extremely large amounts of THC to the body, and their use has sent some people to the emergency room.
Another danger is in preparing these extracts, which usually involves butane lighter fluid. A of people have caused fires and explosions and have been seriously burned from using butane to make extracts at home. When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, they generally feel the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour.
These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. Marijuana over activates parts of the brain that contain the highest of these receptors. This causes the "high" that people feel. Other effects include:. Marijuana also affects brain development. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions.
Researchers are still studying how long marijuana's effects last and whether some changes may be permanent. For example, a study from New Zealand conducted in part by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and The lost mental abilities didn't fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults didn't show notable IQ declines. In another recent study on twins, those who used marijuana showed a ificant decline in general knowledge and in verbal ability equivalent to 4 IQ points between the preteen years and early adulthood, but no predictable difference was found between twins when one used marijuana and the other didn't.
This suggests that the IQ decline in marijuana users may be caused by something other than marijuana, such as shared familial factors e. The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing steadily over the past few decades.
Higher THC levels may explain the rise in emergency room visits involving marijuana use. The popularity of edibles also increases the chance of harmful reactions. Edibles take longer to digest and produce a high. Therefore, people may consume more to feel the effects faster, leading to dangerous . Higher THC levels may also mean a greater risk for addiction if people are regularly exposing themselves to high doses. The Food and Drug Administration has alerted the public to hundreds of reports of serious lung illnesses associated with vaping, including several deaths.
Many of the suspect products tested by the states or federal health officials have been identified as vaping products containing THC, the main psychotropic ingredient in marijuana. Some of the patients reported a mixture of THC and nicotine; and some reported vaping nicotine alone.
No one substance has been identified in all of the samples tested, and it is unclear if the illnesses are related to one single compound. Until more details are known, FDA officials have warned people not to use any vaping products bought on the street, and they warn against modifying any products purchased in stores. They are also asking people and health professionals to report any adverse effects.
The CDC has posted an information for consumers. Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. However, study findings have been mixed. While it's possible to fail a drug test after inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke, it's unlikely. Studies show that very little THC is released in the air when a person exhales. Research findings suggest that, unless people are in an enclosed room, breathing in lots of smoke for hours at close range, they aren't likely to fail a drug test. Similarly, it's unlikely that secondhand marijuana smoke would give nonsmoking people in a confined space a high from passive exposure.
Studies have shown that people who don't use marijuana report only mild effects of the drug from a nearby smoker, under extreme conditions breathing in lots of marijuana smoke for hours in an enclosed room. More research is needed to know if secondhand marijuana smoke has similar health risks as secondhand tobacco smoke.
A recent study on rats suggests that secondhand marijuana smoke can do as much damage to the heart and blood vessels as secondhand tobacco smoke. What they do know is that the toxins and tar found in marijuana smoke could affect vulnerable people, such as children or people with asthma. Compared to those who don't use marijuana, those who frequently use large amounts report the following:.
People also report less academic and career success. For example, marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. Use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are likely to come before use of other drugs. For example, when rodents are repeatedly exposed to THC when they're young, they later show an enhanced response to other addictive substances—such as morphine or nicotine—in the areas of the brain that control reward, and they're more likely to show addiction-like behaviors. Although these findings support the idea of marijuana as a "gateway drug," the majority of people who use marijuana don't go on to use other "harder" drugs.
about marijuana as a gateway drug in our Marijuana Research Report. An overdose occurs when a person uses enough of the drug to produce life-threatening symptoms or death. There are no reports of teens or adults dying from marijuana alone. However, some people who use marijuana can feel some very uncomfortable side effects, especially when using marijuana products with high THC levels.
People have reported symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia, and in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction which can include delusions and hallucinations that can lead them to seek treatment in an emergency room.
While a psychotic reaction can occur following any method of use, emergency room responders have seen an increasing of cases involving marijuana edibles. So they consume more of the edible, trying to get high faster or thinking they haven't taken enough. In addition, some babies and toddlers have been seriously ill after ingesting marijuana or marijuana edibles left around the house. Marijuana use can lead to the development of a substance use disorder, a medical illness in which the person is unable to stop using even though it's causing health and social problems in their life. Severe substance use disorders are also known as addiction.
Research suggests that between 9 and 30 percent of those who use marijuana may develop some degree of marijuana use disorder. Many people who use marijuana long term and are trying to quit report mild withdrawal symptoms that make quitting difficult. These include:. No medications are currently available to treat marijuana use disorder, but behavioral support has been shown to be effective. Examples include therapy and motivational incentives providing rewards to patients who remain drug-free.
Continuing research may lead to new medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse. This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Drug Topics. More Drug Topics. About NIDA.Drugs with thc in them
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