What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is one of the most commonly used substances in the US, with 61.9 million Americans reporting use in 2022. It can be ingested in various ways and is derived from the flower of the Cannabis sativa plant. Its potency varies and is determined by the strain of plant, form, and method of consumption. It can be smoked, brewed in teas, consumed in products such as brownies and gummies known as “edibles,” and used in vaporizers.

This drug goes by various names, including:

  • Cannabis
  • Bud
  • Weed
  • Ganga
  • Mary Jane
  • Grass
  • Herb
  • Pot

The potency of Marijuana is higher in more concentrated forms, such as hashish oil, wax, and budder, and among female plants called sinsemilla. It is used for both medical and recreational purposes, though it is still considered an illicit substance in many places.

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THC Content In Marijuana

People are drawn to Marijuana because of the effects of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the main psychoactive component in the cannabis plant.

THC creates the high felt from Marijuana use and influences brain receptors that play a key role in normal, healthy brain development. THC’s impacts on the brain include:

  • Impaired memory
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Altered senses
  • Changes in mood
  • Impaired coordination and body movement
  • Altered sense of time
  • Psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia when taken in large doses

Coinciding with these troubling effects is the fact that the concentration levels of THC found in Marijuana have increased dramatically over time. In 2008, the average THC content was around 9%. Today, Cannabis products sold in dispensaries have the average sample reporting 22% THC concentration. These fluctuations in THC levels can be risky, as they can result in greater effects than intended when ingested and create a false sense of tolerance for those who regularly use a predetermined amount.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Despite what some people might think, Marijuana use can lead to addiction and the development of Marijuana use disorder (MUD). In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that:

  • People who use Marijuana have approximately a 10% chance of becoming addicted.
  • About three in ten people who use Marijuana develop an addiction.
  • The risk of developing a MUD is greater among those who start using Marijuana at a young age.

Once you develop a MUD, you can experience certain symptoms that affect other areas of your life and can make it difficult to quit, including:

Signs Of Marijuana Use Disorder

Several common signs and symptoms point to Marijuana addiction. These include:

  • Using more often or in larger quantities than you originally intended to
  • Unsuccessful attempts at trying to quit
  • Experiencing a strong desire or craving to use Marijuana
  • Spending a lot of time using and trying to obtain Marijuana
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Marijuana

Effects Of Marijuana Abuse

The method of ingestion (smoking versus eating, for example) largely determines the effects of Marijuana.

For instance, when you smoke Marijuana, the THC starts moving rapidly through the bloodstream, brain, and body almost immediately. Conversely, when you eat or drink it, the THC is slowly absorbed by the body, with the effects becoming noticeable up to an hour after ingestion.

Effects of Marijuana use can include:

  • Lower quality of life and overall life satisfaction
  • Increased relationship conflict and interpersonal problems
  • Poorer physical and mental health
  • Decreased occupational and academic success
  • An increased risk of dropping out of school
  • An increased risk of experiencing injuries and accidents
  • Poorer work attendance and job performance

Long-Term Effects Of Marijuana Use

Chronic use of Marijuana can lead to serious consequences. While more research is needed to comprehend the long-term effects of Marijuana fully, current studies suggest that:

  • Brain development can be significantly altered, resulting in learning, memory, and thinking problems.
  • Smoking Marijuana as a minor may result in lower IQ scores.
  • Childhood development can be impaired when Marijuana is used throughout pregnancy.
  • Chronic smoking of Marijuana can lead to breathing problems.
  • There is an increased risk for heart attack after smoking as it increases the heart rate for up to three hours after you last smoke.
  • Chronic Marijuana use can lead to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which includes severe and chronic bouts of nausea, dehydration, and vomiting that can lead to hospitalization.
  • Marijuana use may increase the risk of developing certain mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

Treating Marijuana Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with Marijuana misuse or addiction, help is available. Many treatment options, like cognitive behavioral therapy and individual counseling, have proven effective in helping people reduce and end Marijuana use.

Contact a treatment provider today; they can help you explore your treatment options and take the first step on the road to an addiction-free future.

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