Marijuana and the Biological Bases of Behavior

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Marijuana and the Biological Bases of Behavior

Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant

Cannabis sativa. Like all plants, it's sensitive to the environment

where it grows. Some of the names for it are Mary Jane, pot, weed,

grass, herb, ganja or skunk. The brain has many responses to marijuana.

Marijuana can cause people to lose focus on events around them. For

some it makes them more aware of their physical sensations. For others,

there are numerous other effects. All forms of marijuana are mind-


All of the changes are caused by chemicals that affect the brain.

More than 400 chemicals are in the average marijuana plant. When

smoked, heat produces even more chemicals. Different weather and soil

conditions can change the amounts of the chemicals inside the plant.

Marijuana grown in one place might be chemically stronger than grown in

another. Marijuana's effects on the user depend on it's strength or

potency, which is related to the amount of THC it contains.

Marijuana causes some parts of the brain, such as those governing

emotions, memory, and judgment, to lose balance and control. Marijuana

can speed the heart rate up to 160 beats per minute. Dilated blood

vessels make the whites of the eyes turn red. Panic feelings may be

accompanied by sweating, dry mouth, or trouble breathing. Much like

tobacco smokers, marijuana smokers may experience a daily cough and

more frequent chest colds. Animal studies have found that THC can

damage the cells and tissues in the body that help protect against

disease. When the immune cells are weakened you are more likely to get


When someone uses marijuana, these chemicals travel through the

bloodstream and quic...

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...ology 8th ed.

Australia, Canada, United States: Wadsworth


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