Using Marijuana Could Be Risky

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Marijuana is a preparation of dried, shredded leaves from the Indian hemp plant Cannabis sativa, which means “useful hemp”. Preparations made from Cannabis include marijuana, the dried plant material; hashish, the dried resin from the flowers and associated leaves; and hash oil, an oily solution of resins and other plant juices extracted in alcohol, filtered, and reduced by evaporation. Marijuana is the form most commonly used since it requires little or no processing. Since marijuana resembles lawn clippings it is commonly called grass. Other common street names for marijuana include, pot, reefer, weed, ganja, endo, and bud. (Longenecker, 97) Imported varieties go by such colorful labels as Acapulco Gold, Colombian Gold, and Panama Red. (Pinger et al, 308)

The quality of marijuana varies in two ways: (1) the composition with regard to plant parts and (2) the concentration of the primary active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The best quality marijuana, referred to in Asia as ganja, includes only the tops of the plant, the flowers and young leaves. Poor quality marijuana, known in Asian as bhang, is made up of lower leaves, stems, and seeds. The concentration of THC in the leaves and buds of a Cannabis plant varies depending on the variety of the plant and the growing conditions, including temperature and the amount of sunshine and moisture. (Pinger et al, 309)

Hemp is actually the stalks, stems, and roots of the marijuana plant. In the United States, only these parts of the plant are legal to possess and can be used for making clothing, paper, paints, plastics, cosmetics, and feed for animals. The flowers, buds, and leaves of the marijuana plant are all illegal. (Somdahl, 31)

In the United States the products of Cannabis are usually smoked. Marijuana is smoked either as hand-rolled cigarettes (joints), or through a pipe or a water pipe (hookah). A current trend involves removing the contents of a commercial cigar and rolling marijuana in the cigar paper, these marijuana cigars are called “blunts”. In other countries, where Cannabis may be used as an herb or spice, it is ingested. Ingestion of marijuana in the United States is uncommon, although not rare. However, smoking is about three times as effective in delivering THC to the bloodstream as is ingestion. Hashish is smoked in pipes specially designed for this purpose; hash oil is usually applied to marijuana or tobacco cigarette, which is then smoked. Use of hashish and hash oil is popular with some people in Canada, but uncommon in the United States.
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