Marijuana: Frequently Asked Questions
What is marijuana/cannabis?
It is the leaves, flowers and other parts of the cannabis plant that have been prepared for smoking or other consumption by drying and then shredding. The cannabis plant is found around the world. The intoxicating ingredient in cannabis is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Different strains of cannabis and different growing processes result in quite different quantities of THC, from an average of 10% to as much as 33% in some strains grown hydroponically.
How is Marijuana used?
Marijuana is usually made into a hand-rolled cigarette and then smoked, or a cigar can be emptied out and refilled with marijuana. Other drugs or formaldehyde may be added to the cigar before smoking. Some people like to cook marijuana into food, then eat the food. Brownies are a common dish to use for this purpose.
What names might a person use for marijuana?
There are many slang terms for marijuana/cannabis. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, these are the terms commonly used for marijuana:
Aunt Mary, BC Bud, Blunts (cigars filled with marijuana), Boom, Chronic, Dope, Gangster, Ganja, Grass, Hash (a particular preparation of marijuana resin), Herb, Hydro, Indo, Joint, Kif, Mary Jane, Mota, Pot, Reefer, Sinsemilla (a particular type of marijuana involving use of only female plants), Skunk (a particular kind of marijuana, often grown hydroponically), Smoke, Weed, Yerb.
How can you tell a person has used marijuana/cannabis?
Physically, they may have red eyes dry mouth and throat, and they may have an increased appetite, particularly for snack foods.
Mentally, they are likely to appear relaxed and euphoric and their time and space perceptions may be inaccurate. They may seem sedated and drowsy. They may have trouble learning and remembering things and be unable to concentrate as well as usual. Sights, sounds, and tastes may seem more vivid to them.
How long does marijuana/cannabis stay in the body?
Traces of marijuana stay in the body for several days after use. If a person has been using marijuana heavily, it sometimes takes weeks for the traces to be eliminated from the body.
Is it dangerous to drive after using marijuana?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) described the effects of using marijuana related to driving: “The ability to concentrate and maintain attention is decreased during marijuana use, and impairment of hand-eye coordination is dose-related.” In other words, the more marijuana that is used, the less a person is able to drive safely. The NHTSA also noted that sleepiness, distortion of time and distance and loss of coordination could last as long as 24 hours after use. Their conclusions were that low use resulted in moderate impairment of ability to drive but chronic or heavy use or use along with alcohol would result in severe impairment.
Can I overdose on marijuana?
No one has ever died of marijuana overdose by itself. But it is possible to suffer serious effects of too much THC. Cannabis growers continually find ways to increase the THC content of marijuana, so that the average THC content has increased from an average of 4% in 1983 to an average of 10% in 2009. Some strains of cannabis tested much higher. High doses of THC have been shown to result in mental confusion, panic attacks, and hallucination.
Could it make any problems for me as a student if I use marijuana?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated that marijuana use harms one’s ability to pay attention and remember what one is learned. In particular, what is damaged is the ability to do complex tasks that require that one focus and concentrate while handling a lot of information. Difficulty thinking and executing problem-solving have also been noted. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse noted that students with lower grades were far more likely to use marijuana that students with good grades but is it not clear if marijuana was involved in causing those lower grades.
What mental or physical problems can marijuana use cause?
According to the 2011 World Drug Report, cannabis products can produce temporary symptoms of psychosis, loss of ability to learn or remember recent events, reduced ability to carry out certain mental tasks, make certain decisions and pay attention. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a person who starts using cannabis early and uses heavily could run an increased risk of psychotic disorders. Physically, marijuana smokers have risks similar to those of smokers: bronchitis, emphysema, asthma. Extensive use can cause suppression of the immune system and can increase the risk of cancer to the head, neck, and lungs.
A report in Spain stated that they had found a link between heavy marijuana use and psychosis that starts during adolescence. Researchers ruled out any connection to use of other drugs.
Does marijuana use lead to the use of other, more dangerous drugs?
It has not been determined yet whether or not marijuana use leads to use of other drugs, but studies show that most young people try marijuana first before going on to other drugs. It’s hard to say if they would have done this anyway or if marijuana use got them started using drugs and then it was easier to use other drugs.
Is marijuana addictive?
Long-term use of marijuana can be addictive. This means that the user cannot control his (or her) use of the drug even though there is harm to many aspects of his life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 9% of people who use marijuana will become addicted. Statistically, addiction is even more likely for a person who starts using marijuana in his or her teens.
Are there withdrawal symptoms when one comes off heavy marijuana use?
Some people say that there are no withdrawal symptoms after stopping marijuana use because they are not as dramatic as the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol or heroin. But they do exist. Chronic users are likely to experience headaches, shakiness, sweating, stomach pains and nausea. Behaviorally, they are likely to feel restless and irritable, have difficulty sleeping and not have much appetite. They also suffer anxiety and have strong cravings for the drug.
Can marijuana addiction be treated?
Yes, marijuana addiction can successfully be overcome. The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program has had very good success helping people who became addicted to marijuana or who started using marijuana and then went on to use other drugs.