Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.
A dry, shredded greenish brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and
leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, usually is smoked as a
cigarette or in a pipe. It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars
that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often
in combination with another drug. As a more concentrated form it is
called hashish and as a sticky black liquid, hash oil. There are
countless street terms for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, grass,
widow, ganja, and hash.
The main active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol,
also referred to as THC. The membranes of certain nerve cells in the
brain contain protein receptors that bind to THC. Once securely in
place, THC kicks off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately
lead to the euphoria that users experience when they smoke marijuana.
In 2002, marijuana was the third most commonly abused drug mentioned
in drug-related hospital emergency department visits in the
continental United States (1). The first most commonly abused drug is
alcohol and the second is non medical use of prescription drugs.
In the brain, THC connects to specific sites called cannabinoid
receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells.
Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or
none. Many cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain
that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and
time perception, and coordinated movement.
The short-term effects of marijuana...
... middle of paper ...
...n lead to addiction for some people; that
is, they use the drug compulsively even though it interferes with
family, school, work, and recreational activities. Drug craving and
withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana smokers
to stop using the drug. People trying to quit report irritability,
sleeplessness, and anxiety. They also have increased aggression on
psychological tests, peaking approximately one week after the last use
of the drug.
Although no medications are currently available for treating marijuana
abuse, recent discoveries about the workings of the THC receptors have
raised the possibility of eventually developing a medication that will
block the intoxicating effects of THC. Such a medication might be used
to prevent relapse to marijuana abuse by lessening or eliminating its
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