According to the United Nations, 158.8 million people around the world use marijuana – more than 3.8% of the planet’s population.
Marijuana is the word used to describe the dried flowers, seeds and leaves of the Indian hemp plant. It is usually green, brown or gray in color. On the streets, it is called by many other names, such as: astro, turf, dope, dogga, grass, hemp, Mary Jane, pot and weed.
Hashish is a related form of the drug, made from the resins of the Indian hemp plant. It is tan, brown or black and shaped into balls, sticks or bars. Also called chocolate or hash, it is on average six times stronger than marijuana.
“Cannabis” describes any of the different drugs that come from Indian hemp, including marijuana and hashish. When smoked, both marijuana and hashish give off a distinctive, sweet odor.
Regardless the name, this drug is a hallucinogen – a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world a person lives in.
The chemical in cannabis that creates this distortion is known as “THC”. The amount of THC found in any given batch of marijuana may vary substantially, but overall, the percentage of THC has increased in recent years. THC levels averaged 1% in 1974 and 4% in 2004. In 2008, levels reached 9.6%.
Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint), but may also be smoked in a pipe. Less often, it is mixed with food and eaten or brewed as a tea. Sometimes users open up cigars and remove the tobacco, replacing it with pot – called a “blunt”. When a person smokes a joint, he usually feels its effects within minutes. The immediate sensations – increased heart rate, lessened coordination and balance, and a “dreamy”, unreal state of mind – peak within the first 30 minutes. These short-term effects usually wear off in two to three hours, but they could last longer, depending on how much the user takes, the potency of the THC and the presence of other drugs added into the mix.
As the typical user inhales more smoke and holds it longer than he would with a cigarette, a joint creates a severe impact on one’s lungs. Aside from the discomfort that goes with sore throats and chest colds, it has been found that consuming one joint gives as much exposure to cancer-producing chemicals as smoking five cigarettes.
The mental consequences of marijuana use are equally severe. Marijuana smokers have poorer memories and mental aptitude than do non-users. Physical reactions are followed by depression, sleepiness, personality and mood changes, inability to understand things clearly.
Marijuana itself does not lead to other drugs; people take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. The drug masks the problem for the time while the user is high. When the “high” fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. The user may then turn to stronger drugs since marijuana no longer “works”. The vast majority of cocaine users (99.9%) began by first using a “gateway drug” like marijuana, cigarettes or alcohol.
By giving the truth about drugs anyone can help others to make informed decision to live a drug free life. To get the facts visit www.drugfreeworld.org.
And for the person with a drug problem, there are also real solutions to addiction. Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program that utilizes the methods of L. Ron Hubbard, has a success rate of more than 75%. (www.narconon.org)