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Marijuana or Cannabis (

, ganjyi)

[citation needed]

Cannabis, also known as marijuana (from the Mexican Spanish marihuana

), and by
numerous other names, is apreparation of the cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive
drug and as medicine.
Pharmacologically, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis
is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); it is one of 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 84
othercannabinoids, such
as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV),
and cannabigerol (CBG
Cannabis is often consumed for its psychoactive and physiological effects, which can include
heightened mood or euphoria, relaxation, and an increase in appetite. Unwanted side-effects can
sometimes include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, reddening of
the eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety.
Contemporary uses of cannabis are as a recreational or medicinal drug, and as part of religious or
spiritual rites; the earliest recorded uses date from the 3rd millennium BC. Since the early 20th
century cannabis has been subject to legal restrictions with the possession, use, and sale of cannabis
preparations containing psychoactive cannabinoids currently illegal in most countries of the world;
the United Nations has said that cannabis is the most-used illicit drug in the world.
In 2004, the
United Nations estimated that global consumption of cannabis indicated that approximately 4% of
the adult world population (162 million people) used cannabis annually, and that approximately 0.6%
(22.5 million) of people used cannabis daily.


Flowering cannabis plant




Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica,Cannabis ruderalis


Part(s) of



Geographic Central and South Asia.[1]



Tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol,cannabinol, tetrahydrocannabivarin



Afghanistan, Burma, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Jamaica, Laos,


Lebanon,[2] Mexico,[3] Netherlands, Pakistan, Paraguay,[3] Thailand,

Turkey, United States

Main articles: Effects of cannabis, Long-term effects of cannabis, Medical cannabis, and Cannabis

Main short-term physical effects of cannabis


Cannabis has psychoactive and physiological effects when consumed. The immediate desired
effects from consuming cannabis include relaxation and mild euphoria (the "high" or "stoned" feeling),
while some immediate undesired side-effects include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth,
impaired motor skills and reddening of the eyes. Aside from a subjective change in perception and
mood, the most common short-term physical and neurological effects include increased heart rate,
increased appetite and consumption of food, lowered blood pressure, impairment of short-term and
working memory,
psychomotor coordination, and concentration.
A 2013 literature review said that exposure to marijuana had biologically-based physical, mental,
behavioral and social health consequences and was "associated with diseases of the liver
(particularly with co-existing hepatitis C), lungs, heart, and vasculature".
Cannabis has been used to reduce nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy and people with AIDS, and
to treat pain and muscle spasticity. According to a 2013 review, "Safety concerns regarding

cannabis include the increased risk of developing schizophrenia with adolescent use, impairments in
memory and cognition, accidental pediatric ingestions, and lack of safety packaging for medical
cannabis formulations."
The medicinal value of cannabis is disputed. The American Society of Addiction Medicine dismisses
the concept of medical cannabis because the plant fails to meet its standard requirements for
approved medicines. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that the herb cannabis
is associated with numerous harmful health effects, and that significant aspects such as content,
production, and supply are unregulated. The FDA approve of the prescription of two products (not for
smoking) that have pure THC in a small controlled dose as the active substance.

A 2013 review comparing different structural and functional imaging studies showed morphological
brain alterations in long-term cannabis users which were found to possibly correlate to cannabis
exposure. A 2010 review found resting blood flow to be lower globally and in prefrontal areas of the
brain in cannabis users, when compared to non-users. It was also shown that giving THC or cannabis
correlated with increased bloodflow in these areas, and facilitated activation of the anterior cingulate
cortex and frontal cortex when participants were presented with assignments demanding use of
cognitive capacity. Both reviews noted that some of the studies that they examined had
methodological limitations, for example small sample sizes or not distinguishing adequately between
cannabis and alcohol consumption.

Gateway drug
Further information: Gateway drug theory
Since the 1950s, United States drug policy has been guided by the assertion that cannabis use
increases the probability of trying "harder" drugs. The hypothesis has endured as one of the central
pillars of anti-cannabis drug policy in the United States, and as such the validity and implications of
the hypothesis are hotly debated. Almost two-thirds of the poly drug users in the "2009/10 Scottish
Crime and Justice Survey" used cannabis.

Some studies state that while there is no proof for the gateway hypothesis, young cannabis users
should still be considered as a risk group for intervention programs, while other findings indicate
that hard drug users are likely to be poly-drug users, and that interventions must address the use of
multiple drugs instead of a single hard drug.
Another gateway hypothesis covers that a gateway effect may result of the "common factors" involved
in using any illegal drug. Through the illegal status of cannabis, users are more likely to be subjected
to situations allowing them to acquaint with individuals using or selling various illegal
Utilizing this argument some studies have shown that alcohol and tobacco may
additionally be regarded as gateway drugs, however, a more parsimonious explanation could be
that cannabis is simply more readily available (and at an earlier age) than illegal hard drugs. In turn
alcohol and tobacco are easier to obtain at an earlier point than is cannabis (though the reverse may
be true in some areas), thus leading to the "gateway sequence" in those individuals; who are most
likely to experiment with any drug offered.

Further information: Cannabis in pregnancy

Fatal overdoses associated with cannabis use have not been reported as of 2008. There has been
too little research to determine whether cannabis users die at a higher rate as compared to the
general population, though some studies suggest that fatal motor vehicle accidents and death from

respiratory and brain cancers may be more frequent among heavy cannabis users. It is not clear
whether cannabis use affects the rate of suicide.
THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant, has low toxicity, the dose of THC
needed to kill 50% of tested rodents is very high, and human deaths from overdose are extremely
Evaluations of safety and tolerability of Sativex, a pharmacological preparation made
from cannabinoids, have concluded that it is indeed well-tolerated and, in one class of patients,
Many studies have looked at the effects of smoking cannabis on the respiratory system. Cannabis
smoke contains thousands of organic and inorganic chemical compounds. This tar is chemically
similar to that found in tobacco smoke, and over fifty known carcinogens have been identified in
cannabis smoke, including; nitrosamines, reactive aldehydes, and polycylic hydrocarbons, including
There is serious suspicion among cardiologists, spurring research but falling short of definitive proof,
that cannabis use has the potential to contribute to cardiovascular disease. Cannabis is believed to be
an aggravating factor in rare cases of arteritis, a serious condition that in some cases leads to
amputation. Because 97% of case-reports also smoked tobacco, a formal association with cannabis
could not be made. If cannabis arteritis turns out to be a distinct clinical entity, it might be the
consequence of vasoconstrictor activity observed from delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC. Other serious
cardiovascular events including myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death,
and cardiomyopathy have been reported to be temporally associated with cannabis use. Research in
these events is complicated because cannabis is often used in conjunction with tobacco, and drugs
such as alcohol and cocaine. These putative effects can be taken in context of a wide range of
cardiovascular phenomena regulated by the endocannabinoid system and an overall role of cannabis
in causing decreased peripheral resistance and increased cardiac output, which potentially could
pose a threat to those with cardiovascular disease.

Varieties and strains

Types of cannabis

Cannabis indica may have a CBD:THC ratio four to five times that of Cannabis sativa. Cannabis
strains with relatively high CBD:THC ratios are less likely to induce anxiety than those with a lower
ratio. This may be due to CBD's antagonistic effects at the cannabinoid receptors, compared to
THC'spartial agonist effect. CBD is also a 5-HT1A receptor agonist, which may also contribute to an
anxiolytic effect. This likely means the high concentrations of CBD found in Cannabis
indica mitigate the anxiogenic effect of THC significantly. The effects of sativa are well known for
their cerebral high, hence its daytime use as medical cannabis, while indica is well known for its
sedative effects and preferred night time use as medical cannabis.

Concentration of psychoactive ingredients

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), "the amount of THC present in
a cannabis sample is generally used as a measure of cannabis potency." The three main forms of
cannabis products are the flower, resin (hashish), and oil (hash oil). The UNODC states that cannabis
often contains 5% THC content, resin "can contain up to 20% THC content", and that "Cannabis oil
may contain more than 60% THC content."
A scientific study published in 2000 in the Journal of Forensic Sciences (JFS) found that the potency
(THC content) of confiscated cannabis in the United States (US) rose from "approximately 3.3% in
1983 and 1984", to "4.47% in 1997". The study also concluded that "other major cannabinoids (i.e.,
CBD, CBN, and CBC)" (other chemicals in cannabis) "showed no significant change in their
concentration over the years". More recent research undertaken at the University of Mississippi's
Potency Monitoring Project found that average THC levels in cannabis samples between 1975 and
2007 steadily increased, for example THC levels in 1985 averaged 3.48% by 2006 this had
increased to an average of 8.77%.
Australia's National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) states that the buds
(flowers) of the female cannabis plant contain the highest concentration of THC, followed by the
leaves. The stalks and seeds have "much lower THC levels". The UN states that leaves can
contain ten times less THC than the buds, and the stalks one hundred times less THC.
After revisions to cannabis rescheduling in the UK, the government moved cannabis back from
a class C to a class B drug. A purported reason was the appearance of high potency cannabis. They
believe skunk accounts for between 70 and 80% of samples seized by police (despite the fact that
skunk can sometimes be incorrectly mistaken for all types of herbal cannabis).
Extracts such
as hashish and hash oil typically contain more THC than high potency cannabis flowers.


Dried flower




Hash oil

Infusion (dairy butter)

Pipe resin

Whole flower and leaf

The terms cannabis and marijuana generally refer to the dried flowers and subtending leaves and
stems of the female cannabis plant. This is the most widely consumed form, containing 3% to 22%
In contrast, cannabis varieties used to produce industrial hemp contain less than 1% THC
and are thus not valued for recreational use.
This is the stock material from which all other preparations are derived. It is noted that cannabis or its
extracts must be sufficiently heated or dehydrated to cause decarboxylation of its most abundant
cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), into psychoactive THC.

Main article: Kief

Kief is a powder, rich in trichomes, which can be sifted from the leaves and flowers of cannabis
plants and either consumed in powder form or compressed to produce cakes of hashish. The word
"kif" derives from Arabic: kayf, meaning well-being or pleasure.

Main article: Hashish
Hashish (also spelled hasheesh, hashisha, or simply hash) is a concentrated resin cake or ball
produced from pressed kief, the detached trichomes and fine material that falls off of cannabis flowers
and leaves. It varies in color from black to golden brown depending upon purity and variety of
cultivar it was obtained from. It can be consumed orally or smoked.

Main article: Green dragon (tincture)
Cannabinoids can be extracted from cannabis plant matter using high-proof spirits (often grain
alcohol) to create a tincture, often referred to as "green dragon". Nabiximols is a branded product
name from a tincture manufacturing pharmaceutical company.

Hash oil
Main article: Hash oil
Hash oil is obtained from the cannabis plant by solvent extraction, and contains the cannabinoids
present in the natural oils of cannabis flowers and leaves. The solvents are evaporated to leave
behind a very concentrated oil. Hemp oil is very different from both hemp seed oil and cannabis flower
essential oil. Owing to its purity, these products are consumed by smoking, vaporizing, eating, or
topical application.


There are many varieties of cannabis infusions owing to the variety of non-volatile solvents used. The
plant material is mixed with the solvent and then pressed and filtered to express the oils of the plant
into the solvent. Examples of solvents used in this process are cocoa butter, dairy butter, cooking
oil, glycerine, and skin moisturizers. Depending on the solvent, these may be used incannabis
foods or applied topically.

Adulterated cannabis

Contaminants may be found in hashish obtained from "soap bar"-type sources. The dried flowers of
the plant may be contaminated by the plant taking up heavy metals and other toxins from its growing
environment, or by the addition of glass. In the Netherlands, chalk has been used to make
cannabis appear to be of a higher quality. Increasing the weight of hashish products in Germany
with lead caused lead intoxication in at least 29 users.

Despite cannabis being generally perceived as a natural or chemical-free product, in a recent

Australian survey one in four Australians consider cannabis grown indoors under hydroponic
conditions to be a greater health risk due to increased contamination, added to the plant during
cultivation to enhance the plant growth and quality.

Main article: Cannabis consumption

A joint prior to rolling, with a paper handmade filter on the left.

A forced-air vaporizer. The detachable balloon (top) fills with vapors that are then inhaled.

Methods of consumption
Cannabis is consumed in many different ways:


smoking, which typically involves inhaling vaporized cannabinoids ("smoke") from small
pipes, bongs (portable versions of hookahs with water chamber), paper-wrapped joints or
tobacco-leaf-wrapped blunts, roach clips, and other items.

vaporizer, which heats herbal cannabis to 330375 F (166191 C), causing the active
ingredients to evaporate into a vapor without burning the plant material (the boiling point of THC
is 390.4 F (199.1 C) at 760 mmHg pressure).

cannabis tea, which contains relatively small concentrations of THC because THC is an oil
(lipophilic) and is only slightly water-soluble (with a solubility of 2.8 mg per liter). Cannabis tea
is made by first adding a saturated fat to hot water (e.g. cream or any milk except skim) with a
small amount of cannabis.

edibles, where cannabis is added as an ingredient to one of a variety of foods.

Marijuana vending machines for selling or dispensing cannabis are in use in the United States and
are planned to be used in Canada.

Mechanism of action
See also: Effects of cannabis#Biochemical mechanisms in the brain

The high lipid-solubility of cannabinoids results in their persisting in the body for long periods of
time. Even after a single administration of THC, detectable levels of THC can be found in the body
for weeks or longer (depending on the amount administered and the sensitivity of the assessment
method). A number of investigators have suggested that this is an important factor in marijuana's
effects, perhaps because cannabinoids may accumulate in the body, particularly in the lipid
membranes of neurons.
Not until the end of the 20th century was the specific mechanisms of action of THC at the neuronal
level studied. Researchers have subsequently confirmed that THC exerts its most prominent effects
via its actions on two types of cannabinoid receptors, the CB1 receptor and the CB2 receptor, both of
which are G-protein coupled receptors. The CB1 receptor is found primarily in the brain as well as
in some peripheral tissues, and the CB2 receptor is found primarily in peripheral tissues, but is also
expressed in neuroglial cells. THC appears to alter mood and cognition through its agonist actions
on the CB1 receptors, which inhibit a secondary messenger system (adenylate cyclase) in a dose
dependent manner. These actions can be blocked by the selective CB1 receptor antagonist
SR141716A (rimonabant), which has been shown in clinical trials to be an effective treatment for
smoking cessation, weight loss, and as a means of controlling or reducing metabolic syndrome risk
factors. However, due to the dysphoric effect of CB1 antagonists, this drug is often discontinued
due to these side effects.
Via CB1 activation, THC indirectly increases dopamine release and produces psychotropic effects.
Cannabidiol also acts as an allosteric modulator of the mu and delta opioid receptors. THC also
potentiates the effects of the glycine receptors. The role of these interactions in the "marijuana
high" remains elusive.

Detection of consumption
Main article: Cannabis drug testing
THC and its major (inactive) metabolite, THC-COOH, can be measured in blood, urine, hair, oral fluid
or sweat using chromatographic techniques as part of a drug use testing program or a forensic
investigation of a traffic or other criminal offense. The concentrations obtained from such analyses
can often be helpful in distinguishing active use from passive exposure, elapsed time since use, and
extent or duration of use. These tests cannot, however, distinguish authorized cannabis smoking for
medical purposes from unauthorized recreational smoking. Commercial cannabinoid
immunoassays, often employed as the initial screening method when testing physiological specimens
for marijuana presence, have different degrees of cross-reactivity with THC and its
metabolites. Urine contains predominantly THC-COOH, while hair, oral fluid and sweat contain
primarily THC. Blood may contain both substances, with the relative amounts dependent on the
recency and extent of usage.
The Duquenois-Levine test is commonly used as a screening test in the field, but it cannot definitively
confirm the presence of cannabis, as a large range of substances have been shown to give false
positives. Despite this, it is common in the United States for prosecutors to seek plea bargains on the
basis of positive D-L tests, claiming them definitive, or even to seek conviction without the use of gas
chromatography confirmation, which can only be done in the lab. In 2011, researchers at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice reported that dietary zinc supplements can mask the presence of THC and
other drugs in urine. Similar claims have been made in web forums on that topic.

Main article: Cannabis cultivation

It is often claimed by growers and breeders of herbal cannabis that advances in breeding and
cultivation techniques have increased the potency of cannabis since the late 1960s and early '70s,
when THC was first discovered and understood. However, potent seedless cannabis such as "Thai
sticks" were already available at that time. Sinsemilla (Spanish for "without seed") is the dried,
seedless inflorescences of female cannabis plants. Because THC production drops off once
pollination occurs, the male plants (which produce little THC themselves) are eliminated before they
shed pollen to prevent pollination. Advanced cultivation techniques such
as hydroponics, cloning, high-intensity artificial lighting, and the sea of green method are frequently
employed as a response (in part) to prohibition enforcement efforts that make outdoor cultivation
more risky. It is often cited that the average levels of THC in cannabis sold in United States rose
dramatically between the 1970s and 2000, but such statements are likely skewed because of undue
weight given to much more expensive and potent, but less prevalent samples.
"Skunk" refers to several named strains of potent cannabis, grown through selective breeding and
sometimes hydroponics. It is a cross-breed of Cannabis sativa and C. indica (although other strains of
this mix exist in abundance). Skunk cannabis potency ranges usually from 6% to 15% and rarely as
high as 20%. The average THC level in coffee shops in the Netherlands is about 1819%.

The price or street value of cannabis varies widely depending on geographic area and potency.


In the United States, cannabis is overall the number four value crop, and is number one or two in
many states including California, New York and Florida, averaging $3,000/lb.
It is believed to
generate an estimated $36 billion market.
Most of the money is spent not on growing and
producing but on smuggling the supply to buyers. The United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crimeclaims in its 2008 World Drug Report that typical U.S. retail prices are $1015 per gram
(approximately $280420 per ounce). Street prices in North America are known to range from about
$150 to $400 per ounce, depending on quality.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports that typical retail prices in
Europe for cannabis varies from 2 to 20 per gram, with a majority of European countries reporting
prices in the range 410.

See also: War on Drugs, Legal history of cannabis in the United States, and History of medical

The Chinese character for hemp ( or m) depicts two plants under a shelter.[105]Cannabis cultivation dates back at
least 10,000 years in Taiwan.[106]


Cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia.

Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke
can be found in the 3rd millennium BCE, as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a
ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania.
In 2003, a leather basket filled with
cannabis leaf fragments and seeds was found next to a 2,500- to 2,800-year-old mummified shaman
in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China.
Evidence for the
consumption of cannabis has also been found in Egyptian mummies dated about 950 BC.
Cannabis is also known to have been used by the ancient Hindus of India and Nepal thousands of
years ago. The herb was called ganjika in Sanskrit (
,ganja in modern Indo-Aryan


The ancient drug soma, mentioned in the Vedas, was sometimes associated with

Cannabis was also known to the ancient Assyrians, who discovered its psychoactive properties
through the Aryans.
Using it in some religious ceremonies, they called it qunubu (meaning "way to
produce smoke"), a probable origin of the modern word "cannabis".
Cannabis was also introduced
by the Aryans to theScythians, Thracians and Dacians, whose shamans (the kapnobatai"those who
walk on smoke/clouds") burned cannabis flowers to induce a state of trance.

Cannabis sativa from Vienna Dioscurides, 512 AD

Cannabis has an ancient history of ritual use and is found in pharmacological cults around the world.
Hemp seeds discovered by archaeologists at Pazyryk suggest early ceremonial practices like eating
by the Scythians occurred during the 5th to 2nd century BCE, confirming previous historical reports
by Herodotus.
One writer has claimed that cannabis was used as a religious sacrament by ancient
Jews and early Christians
due to the similarity between the Hebrew word "qannabbos"
("cannabis") and the Hebrew phrase "qen bsem" ("aromatic cane"). It was used by Muslims in
various Sufi orders as early as the Mamlukperiod, for example by the Qalandars.
A study published in the South African Journal of Science showed that "pipes dug up from the garden
of Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon contain traces of cannabis."
The chemical analysis
was carried out after researchers hypothesized that the "noted weed" mentioned in Sonnet 76 and the
"journey in my head" from Sonnet 27 could be references to cannabis and the use
Examples of classic literature featuring cannabis include Les paradis artificiels by Charles
Baudelaire and The Hasheesh Eater by Fitz Hugh Ludlow.
John Gregory Bourke described use of "mariguan", which he identifies as Cannabis indica or Indian
hemp, by Mexican residents of the Rio Grande region ofTexas in 1894. He described its uses for
treatment of asthma, to expedite delivery, to keep away witches, and as a love-philtre. He also wrote
that many Mexicans added the herb to their cigarritos or mescal, often taking a bite of sugar afterward

to intensify the effect. Bourke wrote that because it was often used in a mixture with toloachi (which
he inaccurately describes as Datura stramonium), mariguan was one of several plants known as "loco
weed". Bourke compared mariguan to hasheesh, which he called "one of the greatest curses of the
East", citing reports that users "become maniacs and are apt to commit all sorts of acts of violence
and murder", causing degeneration of the body and an idiotic appearance, and mentioned laws
against sale of hasheesh "in most Eastern countries".

Cannabis indica fluid extract, American Druggists Syndicate, pre-1937

Cannabis was criminalized in various countries beginning in the early 20th century. In the United
States, the first restrictions for sale of cannabis came in 1906 (inDistrict of Columbia).
It was
outlawed in South Africa in 1911, in Jamaica (then a British colony) in 1913, and in the United
Kingdom and New Zealand in the 1920s.
Canada criminalized cannabis in the Opium and Drug
Act of 1923, before any reports of use of the drug in Canada. In 1925 a compromise was made at an
international conference in The Hague about the International Opium Convention that banned
exportation of "Indian hemp" to countries that had prohibited its use, and requiring importing countries
to issue certificates approving the importation and stating that the shipment was required "exclusively
for medical or scientific purposes". It also required parties to "exercise an effective control of such a
nature as to prevent the illicit international traffic in Indian hemp and especially in the resin".
In the United States in 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act was passed, and prohibited the production of
hemp in addition to cannabis. The reasons that hemp was also included in this law are disputed
several scholars have claimed that the act was passed in order to destroy the US hemp
with the primary involvement of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst,
and the Du Pont family.
But the improvements of the decorticators, machines that separate the
fibers from the hemp stem, could not make hemp fiber a very cheap substitute for fibers from other
sources because it could not change that basic fact that strong fibers are only found in the bast, the
outer part of the stem. Only about 1/3 of the stem are long and strong fibers.
The United Nations' 2012 Global Drug Report stated that cannabis "was the world's most widely
produced, trafficked, and consumed drug in the world in 2010", identifying that between 119 million
and 224 million users existed in the world's adult (18 or older) population.

Legal status
Main article: Legality of cannabis
See also: Prohibition of drugs and Drug liberalization

Cannabis propaganda sheet from 1935

Since the beginning of the 20th century, most countries have enacted laws against the cultivation,
possession or transfer of cannabis.
These laws have impacted adversely on the cannabis plant's
cultivation for non-recreational purposes, but there are many regions where, under certain
circumstances, handling of cannabis is legal or licensed. Many jurisdictions have lessened the
penalties for possession of small quantities of cannabis, so that it is punished by confiscation and
sometimes a fine, rather than imprisonment, focusing more on those who traffic the drug on the black
In some areas where cannabis use has been historically tolerated, some new restrictions have been
put in place, such as the closing of cannabis coffee shops near the borders of the
closing of coffee shops near secondary schools in the Netherlands and crackdowns
on "Pusher Street" in Christiania, Copenhagen in 2004.
Some jurisdictions use free voluntary treatment programs and/or mandatory treatment programs for
frequent known users. Simple possession can carry long prison terms in some countries, particularly
in East Asia, where the sale of cannabis may lead to a sentence of life in prison or even execution.
More recently however, many political parties, non-profit organizations and causes based on the
legalization of medical cannabis and/or legalizing the plant entirely (with some restrictions) have
In December 2012, the U.S. state of Washington became the first state to officially legalize cannabis
in a state law (Washington Initiative 502) (but still illegal by federal law),
with the state
ofColorado following close behind (Colorado Amendment 64).
On January 1, 2013, the first
marijuana "club" for private marijuana smoking (no buying or selling, however) was allowed for the
first time in Colorado.
The California Supreme Court decided in May 2013 that local governments
can ban medical marijuana dispensaries despite a state law in California that permits the use of
cannabis for medical purposes. At least 180 cities across California have enacted bans in recent
In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country to legalize growing, sale and use of

Constraints on open research

Further information: Medical cannabis#Research

Cannabis research is challenging since the plant is illegal in most

Research-grade samples of the drug are difficult to obtain for research
purposes, unless granted under authority of national governments.
This issue was highlighted in the United States by the clash between Multidisciplinary Association for
Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an independent research group, and the National Institute on Drug
Abuse (NIDA), a federal agency charged with the application of science to the study of drug abuse.
The NIDA largely operates under the general control of the Office of National Drug Control
Policy (ONDCP), a White House office responsible for the direct coordination of all legal, legislative,
[citation needed]
scientific, social and political aspects of federal drug control policy.
The cannabis that is available for research studies in the United States is grown at the University of
Mississippi and solely controlled by the NIDA, which has veto power over the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to define accepted protocols. Since 1942, when cannabis was removed from the
U.S. Pharmacopoeia and its medical use was prohibited, there have been no legal (under federal law)
privately funded cannabis production projects. This has resulted in a limited amount of research being
done and possibly in NIDA producing cannabis which has been alleged to be of very low potency and
inferior quality.
MAPS, in conjunction with Professor Lyle Craker, PhD, the director of the Medicinal Plant Program at
the University of Massachusetts Amherst, sought to provide independently grown cannabis of more
appropriate research quality for FDA-approved research studies, and encountered opposition by
NIDA, the ONDCP, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
There are also other difficulties in researching the effects of cannabis. Many people who smoke
cannabis also smoke tobacco, and users of cannabis often mix it with tobacco. This can make it
difficult to know whether it is the tobacco, the cannabis, or both that have caused a cancer. Another
difficulty researchers have is in recruiting people who smoke cannabis into studies. Because cannabis
is an illegal drug in many countries, people may be reluctant to take part in research, and if they do
agree to take part, they may not say how much cannabis they actually smoke.
However, a large number of studies about cannabis have after year 2000 been published from a
number of countries.

See also
Cannabis portal
Pharmacy and Pharmacology portal



Cannabinoid receptors

Effects of cannabis

Marijuana vending machine

Medical marijuana







^ a: Weed,
and herb
are among the many other nicknames for marijuana or
cannabis as a drug.
^ b: Sources for this section and more information can be found in the Medical cannabis article


Jump up^ Mahmoud A. ElSohly (2007). Marijuana and the Cannabinoids. Springer. p. 8. ISBN 978-159259-947-9.


Jump up^ Rana Moussaoui (Nov. 25, 2013). "Lebanon cannabis trade thrives in shadow of Syrian
war". AFP.


^ Jump up to:

a b

Sanie Lopez Garelli (25 November 2008). "Mexico, Paraguay top pot producers, U.N.

report says". CNN International. Retrieved 28 September 2013.


Jump up^ See article on Marijuana as a word.


Jump up^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (6th ed.), Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19920687-2


Jump up^ See, Etymology of marijuana.


Jump up^ Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries (2007).Spanish Word Histories and Mysteries:
English Words That Come From Spanish. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 142.ISBN 978-0-547-35021-9.


Jump up^ Ethan B Russo (2013). Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and
Therapeutic Potential. Routledge. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-136-61493-4.


Jump up^ El-Alfy, Abir T, et al. (Jun 2010). "Antidepressant-like effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
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What Chemicals Are in Marijuana and Its Byproducts?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Oakley Ray, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt
University, and Charles Ksir, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming,
noted in their 2004 textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior:
"The chemistry of Cannabis is quite complex, and the isolation and extraction of the active
ingredient are difficult even today. The active agent in Cannabis is unique among psychoactive
plant materials in that it contains no nitrogen and thus is not an alkaloid. Because Cannabis
lacks nitrogen, the 19th century chemists who had been so successful in isolating the active
agents from other plants were unable to identify its active component.
There are over 400 chemicals in marijuana, but only 61 [80 as of July 9, 2009; see Editor's
Note below] of them are unique to the Cannabis plant -- these are called cannabinoids. One of
them, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was isolated and synthesized in 1964 and is clearly
the most pharmacologically active.
Take special note that the relationship of THC to Cannabis is probably more similar to the
relationship of mescaline to peyote then of alcohol to beer, wine, or distilled spirits. Alcohol is
the only behaviorally active agent in alcoholic beverages, but there might be several active
agents in Cannabis."
[Editor's Note: Mohamed M. Radwan, Mahmoud A. ElSohly, et al., researchers at the
University of Mississippi, reported the discovery of nine new cannabinoids in their Apr. 3, 2009
study titled "Biologically Active Cannabinoids from High-Potency Cannabis Sativa," published
in the Journal of Natural Products. This discovery brings the total number of cannabinoids to
about 80, according to an Apr. 12, 2009 bulletin published by the International Association for
Cannabis as Medicine.]

Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, stated in its website article
"Research: Definitions and Explanations" (accessed Dec. 7, 2006):
"...[T]here are 483 different identifiable chemical constituents known to exist in cannabis. The most
distinctive and specific class of compounds are the cannabinoids (66 known), that are only known to
Other constituents of the cannabis plant are: nitrogenous compounds (27 known), amino acids (18),
proteins (3), glycoproteins (6), enzymes (2), sugars and related compounds (34), hydrocarbons (50),
simple alcohols (7), aldehydes (13), ketones (13), simple acids (21), fatty acids (22), simple esters
(12), lactones (1), steroids (11), terpenes (120), non-cannabinoid phenols (25), flavonoids (21),
The very most of these compounds are found in other plants and animals and are not of
pharmacological relevance with regard to the effects exerted by cannabis preparations."

The Mayo Clinic stated in its Aug. 25, 2006 article "Marijuana as Medicine: Consider the Pros and
Cons," published on its website:
"Marijuana contains at least 60 chemicals called cannabinoids. Researchers are evaluating how
effective some of these cannabinoids might be in controlling symptoms of certain medical conditions.
For example:

THC. An abbreviation for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the main component

responsible for marijuana's mind-altering effect. It also may help treat signs and
symptoms such as nausea and vomiting that are associated with a number of medical
Cannabinol and cannabidiol. These compounds have some of the properties of
THC, but cause less psychoactive effects the high. [...]
Also, marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does
tobacco smoke and has the potential to cause cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract. Marijuana
smoke is commonly inhaled deeper and held longer than is tobacco smoke, increasing the lungs'
exposure to carcinogens."

The Institute of Medicine published in its Mar. 1999 report titled "Marijuana and Medicine:
Assessing the Science Base":
"The most recent review of the constituents of marijuana lists 66 cannabinoids. But that does not
mean there are 66 different cannabinoid effects or interactions. Most of the cannabinoids are
closely related and they fall into only 10 groups of closely related cannabinoids, many of which
differ by only a single chemical moiety and might be midpoints along biochemical pathways -that is, degradation products, precursors, or byproducts.

Cannabinoids Identified in Marijuana

Cannabinoid Group


Known Variants































Miscellaneous types


Mar. 1999 - Institute of Medicine

"Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base" (988 KB)

Dale Gieringer, PhD, State Coordinator of the California National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws (NORML), stated in his 2004 article "Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient
Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds," published in the Journal of
Cannabis Therapeutics, where he compared the chemical constituents of marijuana smoke (from
a glass pipe) with marijuana vapor (from a vaporizer machine):
"Aside from the cannabinoids, only three other compounds were tentatively identified in the
vapor gas, and one in the solvated condensate. The three were caryophyllene (a aromatic
terpene found in cannabis and other plants), plus two other compounds of undetermined origin...
THC accounted for a nominal 94.3% of the inferred estimated mass [of vaporized marijuana]...
Comparison runs using combusted [burned] cannabis presented a strikingly different picture...
Review data from the gaseous headspace detected 111 tentatively identified compounds,
including THC and CBN. Included were five known PAHs [polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons].
Cannabinoids represented only 12% of the inferred recovered mass; the remaining 88%
consisted of extraneous products of combustion."
2004 - Dale Gieringer, PhD

Donald P. Tashkin, MD, Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratories at the University of
California, Los Angeles, stated in his article "Effects of Marijuana on the Lung and its Immune
Defenses," published in the Mar. 1997 "Secretary's Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Initiative:
Resource Papers" by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention:
"Analysis of the smoke contents of marijuana and tobacco reveals much the same gas phase
constituents, including chemicals known to be toxic to respiratory tissue. Moreover, these gas
phase components are present in somewhat similar concentrations in the smoke generated from
the same quantity of marijuana and tobacco.
The particulate phase (tar) constituents of marijuana and tobacco smoke are also generally
similar, with the major exception that marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and scores
of other llIC-like (cannabinoid) compounds not found in tobacco, while tobacco tar contains
nicotine not found in marijuana.
With regard to the carcinogenic potential of marijuana, it is noteworthy that the tar phase of

marijuana smoke contains many of the same carcinogenic compounds contained in tobacco
smoke, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benz[a]pyrene, which was recently
identified as a key factor promoting human lung cancer... Preliminary findings suggest that
marijuana smoke activates cytochrome P4501A1, the enzyme that converts polycyclic
hydrocarbons, such as benz[a]pyrene, into active carcinogens."

Mar. 1997 - Donald P. Tashkin, MD

Mahmoud A. ElSohly, PhD, Research Professor at the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical

Sciences at the University of Mississippi, stated in his 2002-2003 Annual Report addendum titled
"Analysis of Paraquat in Confiscated Marijuana Samples":
"During this report period a total of 400 samples were analyzed [for Paraquat, a poisonous weed
killer] constituting 400 seizures [of marijuana] and 80 controls. Of these 400 samples, 137 were
from Southwest Regional Laboratory, of which 2 were positive (1.46%) [for Paraquat]. The
remaining 263 samples were from South Central Regional Laboratory with 11 positives (4.18%).
Overall, the qualitative analysis showed the rate to be 13 positive samples among the 400
seizures or 3.25% positive."

Chemicals in marijuana 'protect nervous system'

against MS
Chemical compounds found in marijuana can help treat multiple sclerosis-like diseases in
mice by preventing inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, according to a study
reported in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.
"Inflammation is part of the body's natural immune response, but in cases like MS, it gets out of
hand," says Dr. Ewa Kozela of Tel Aviv University, Israel.
"Our study looks at how compounds isolated from marijuana can be used to
regulate inflammation to protect the nervous system and its functions."
Dr. Kozela and colleagues set out to see if the known anti-inflammatory properties of two
substances found in marijuana - the cannabinoids known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and
cannabidiol (CBD) - could also be applied to the treatment of inflammation associated with MS.
With either THC or CBD, the researchers treated immune cells that specifically target and
harm the brain and spinal cord. In response to both chemicals, the immune cells, isolated
from paralyzed mice, produced fewer inflammatory molecules, particularly interleukin 17
Interleukin 17 "is strongly associated with MS and very harmful to nerve cells and their insulating
covers," the researchers say. They conclude:

"The presence of CBD or THC restrains the immune cells from triggering the production of
inflammatory molecules, and limits the molecules' ability to reach and damage the brain and
spinal cord."

Medicinal benefits of CBD

Cannabidiol, found in marijuana, provides medicinal benefits without the psychedelic side effects of THC,
researchers say

THC was discovered in marijuana by scientists in Israel in 1964, and about 70 cannabinoids compounds that are unique to cannabis, with interesting biological effects - have been identified
Professor Zvi Vogel, co-author of the present study, was among the first researchers to describe
endocannabinoids in the 1990s, molecules that act like THC in the body.
Cannabidiol is the most plentiful and potent cannabinoid in marijuana, the Tel Aviv
University researchers say. They are particularly interested in CBD "because it offers
medicinal benefits without the controversial mind-altering effects of THC."
In a 2011 study, they showed that CBD helps treat MS-like symptoms in mice by preventing
immune cells attacking nerve cells in the spinal cord.
For this previous work, the researchers injected mice that had an MS-like condition and partially
paralyzed limbs, with CBD. The animals regained movement, "first twitching their tails and then
beginning to walk without a limp."
The researchers noted that the mice treated with CBD had much less inflammation in the spinal
cord than their untreated counterparts, and this led to the present study, which they want to build
on toward possible treatment for humans.

Quests to find a treatment for MS continue

Further research is needed to prove the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating MS, although
the researchers note that in many countries, CBD and THC are already used for symptoms,
including pain and muscle stiffness.
"When used wisely, cannabis has huge potential," Dr Kozela says. "We're just beginning
to understand how it works."
Another naturally occurring compound believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and found in
the skin of red grapes, red wine and peanuts has been the subject of a safety warning, as
reported by Medical News Today at the beginning of October 2013.
The warning is not to use resveratrol supplements for MS after a study found "detrimental
effects in some disease conditions and should be discouraged for supplemental use by MS
patients pending further research."
Written by Markus MacGill

Copyright: Medical News Today

Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.

Choose Your Favorite Topic To Read

Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried
shredded flowers, seeds, stems and leaves of
the cannabis plant. Chemical components like
THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), hashish,
hash oil and Sinsemilla are present in
marijuana. There are more than 500
components present in the cannabis plant and
THC is the most important component. Some of
the other components include Cannabinol,
THCV and cannabidiol.

For more than 10000 years marijuana has been
used by mankind for various purposes. In the middle Stone Age cannabis fiber is used as a rope, nets etc.
The cannabis plant was also used in pre-historical periods for its wide difficult resin (delta-1tetrahydrocannabinol or THC), which generates psychoactive results in humans. 10000 years before
cannabis plant is used for decorative purposes. Weed fiber (hemp) was not only used in China as design,
but it was also used to create dresses, brails, paper purpose and net for fishers.

There are many street names for marijuana, some examples are: Hemp, cannabis, Ganja, Reefer, Bud,
Pot, Herb, Grass, Old Man, Blanche, Weed, Sinsemilla, Bhang Dagga, White Widow etc...
Back To Top


Medical Marijuana is the safest substances

that are known to be used by mankind.

Our body consists of an endocannabinoid

system. This can be activated by the ingestion of

cannabis. This system in our body has effects on our
mood, sleep and digestion. Also this has control over
our ability to concentrate and also pain.

The patients suffering from arthritis and migraine have reported relief from the pain with the help ofmedical
marijuana. People suffering from nausea and vomiting also have reported to find relief after the use of
marijuana. It is known to stimulate hunger in the body. Therefore AIDS patients undergoing chemotherapy can
make good use of its benefits.

Patients suffering from spinal cord injuries can also benefit from the cannabis related treatment. Cannabis is also
a well known muscle relaxant and can also be used for the treatment of alcohol abuse.

Marijuana is even used as a medicine for kids for the treatment of OCD, AHDH, Autism, Brain Tumor etc.

Marijuana uses in Industrial Textiles, Paper Industry, Agricultural Benefits and Personal Hygiene like soaps,
shampoo, Bath gels etc.

To get a good quality of medical marijuana selection visit San Francisco Medical Marijuana Dispensary.

Cannabis Science
The Plant Side: Cannabinoids
Marijuana is composed of over 400 compounds, including about 60
cannabinoids, which are a class of molecules unique to the cannabis
plant.Cannabinoids were first identified in the 1940s, but it was not until
1964 that Dr. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
isolated delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as the primary psychoactive
ingredient in pot, the chemical that gets people high.
THCs effects are domulated by the other cannabinoids. Along with THC,
the main cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN) and
cannabigerol (CBG). More than 50 other cannabinoids are either slight
chemical variations on these main 4 molecules, or are only present in
either small quantities in comparison. THC is by far the most understood.
Cannabinoids are concentrated in the thick resin produced in gladural
structures known as trichomes. This name comes from the Greek, and
means growth of hair. On marijuana plants, trichomes are the tiny
stalks with cannabinoid-filled heads that stick up off the buds, leaves and
stems. In addition to cannabinoids, trichomes are also rich in terpenes,
the chemicals that produce the powerful, distinctive odors of the cannabis

The Human Side: Cannabinoid Receptors

Cannabinoid receptors are found in very large quantities in many different
parts of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and
the nerves that carry signals between the brain and body. Most of the
cannabis high is the result of THC interacting with the cannabinoid
receptors in the nervous system.

In 1988 an American research team discovered the part of the brain that
picks up THC and other cannabinoids. Dubbed CB-1 receptors, they seem
to be responsible for the euphoric and anticonvulsive effects of cannabis.
CB-1 receptors are found in many parts of the nervous system and
reproductive system, but are virtually absent from areas that control the
lungs and heart. Marijuana bypasses these symptoms, making it
essentially non-toxic. Most drugs, even aspirin or coffee, act on these vital
systems, which means at high enough doses, they can be toxic or fatal to
humans. On the contrary, there are no recorded deaths from a marijuana
overdose. The effects of THC overconsumption are generally restricted to
conditions that may may include severe temporary memory impairment,
paranoia and panic, but most often result in sleepiness followed by deep
and sometimes prolonged sleep.
Scientists identified a second group of cannabis receptors known as CB-2
receptors. These are found in the immune system, primarily the spleen,
but also in other organs. They appear to be responsible for the antiinflamatory and stress reduction effects of marijuana. The CB-2 receptors
may hold the key to many other therapeutic effects that this plant offers,
such as immune modulation and tumor reduction.
Having identified these receptors, researchers naturally wondered what
they were doing there in the first place. In 1992, Dr. Devane, along with a
scientific team working at Dr. Mechoulams project, was able to identify
the chemical produced by the body naturally that the receptors are there
to receive.
Devane named these naturally occuring chemicals anandamides after
the Sanskrit word for bliss (ananda). Technically, they are described as
endogenous ligands. They activate the cannabinoid receptors. The
effects of the natural chemicals are similar to THCm but act less
powerfully and disappear far faster.
The discovery of these anadamides makes it clear that while cannabinoid
receptors sure come in handy for getting high on pot, their sole purpose is
not to allow humans to get high from cannabis. The cannabinoid system
appears to be very ancient, and exists in nearly all species of animals so
far investigated mammals, reptiles and birds, even very simple ones
like the microscopic hydra.
According to Mechoulams ongoing research, anandamides may play a
critical role in controlling many of the bodys biochemical systems,
including reproduction, sleep, fight-or-flight and appetite cycles. The
presence of these naturally occuring anadamides gives new meaning to
the saying get high on life. Our bodies naturally take advantage of this
feel-good chemistry for their own regulatory purposes.

Cannabis Human Interaction

Once THC reaches a cell, it binds to the receptor, causing changes in the
cells function, which ultimately result in the physiological or psychological
effects of the drug in other words, it makes you high.
The body absorbs pot when the cannabinoids are released and inhaled as
smoke or vapor. They pass thru the lining of the lungs and enter the
bloodstream. Blood circulates through the heart, then heads straight for
the brain and on to other parts of the body, resulting in a rapid onset of
When cannabis is eaten or drunk as a beverage, the cannabinoids are not
absorbed until theyve made it past the stomach to the intestines, where
theyre absorbed into the blood, which passes through the liver before
distribution to the brain and other parts of the body.
Once THC passes through the liver, it is chemically modified into 11hydroxy-THC. Because digestion and absorption are relatively inefficient
and slow, the effects are delayed for 30-60 minutes from consumption,
but once they begin, they last longer.
The quality of the high from inhalation versus eating may be different,
since most of the eaten THC will be modified by the liver. Also, only about
30% of the THC is absorbed when eaten, while 50-75% is absorbed when
pot is inhaled, whether smoked or vaporized.
A scientific study of subjects smoking marijuana determined what factors
affected blood levels of THC. It was discovered that longer breath holding
time was more important than the number of puffs taken of the puff
volume. Thats right. Roll your eyes at your smoking pals when they

seem on the verge of exploding from holding an inhale science is on

their side.
Once pot reaches the receptors, it has a multitude of effect. Scientific
researchers have indicated four main groups of psychological categories
that make up the high:
Emotional euphoria, easy laughter, decreased anxiety.
Sensory increased or altered perception of external stimuli; increased
awareness of ones own body.
Somatic feeling of floating or sinking, impaired balance.
Cognitive distortion of time perception, memory lapses, difficulty
Physiological effects may include a brief increase in heart rate and blood
pressure, red eyes, dry mouth, decreased activity of the intestines and
decreased nausea, analgesia (pain relief), decreased convulsions (antiseizure) and decreased muscle spasms. These effects may be present to
greater or lesser degrees depending on the balance of cannabinoids and
the amount of the dose.

The Science of Variety

Remember the two types of receptors? THC attaches primarily to CB-1
receptors, while CBD has an affinity for CB-2 receptors. Since some
varieties have a larger proportion of CBD relative to THC or vice versa,
this is one scientific basis for different producing a range of effects. More
CBD typically produces a heavier, body high, helpful with sleep or
inflammation. More THC typically affects the head more, generating
euphoria and energy.
Connosseurs appreciate the subtleties of variation in the highs marijuana
can impart. Now, the medical community is just beginning to identify
physiologic reactions to certain strains that may benefit specific
conditions. So far, it is believed that THC mediates pain and provides
neuroprotection, while CBD relieve convulsion, inflammation, anxiety, and
GW Pharmaceuticals, the British firm, has spent years and millions of
dollars researching and developing cannabis-based medications. They
have found that particular balances of these two cannabinoids produce
measurably different effects in patients. For instance, THC or CBD alone
do not help pain management nearly as much as an equal balance
between two.
Other cannabinoids also appear to have profound effects on physical
function and health. Since 2002, cancer researchers have identified

cannabinoids responsible for tumor reduction, triggering the natural cell

death that keeps tumors from growing and cutting off the blood supply to
tumors that have already developed.
Identifying and developing strains of marijuana that contain particular
ratios of cannabinoids and other chemicals should prove to be some of the
most important work of the next decade.

DrugFacts: Marijuana
Revised January 2014
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, which contains the
psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as other related compounds. This plant
material can also be concentrated in a resin called hashish or a sticky black liquid called hash oil.
Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States. After a period of decline in the last decade, its use has
been increasing among young people since 2007, corresponding to a diminishing perception of the drugs risks that may be
associated with increased public debate over the drugs legal status. Although the federal government considers marijuana a
Schedule I substance (having no medicinal uses and high risk for abuse), two states have legalized marijuana for adult
recreational use, and 20 states have passed laws allowing its use as a treatment for certain medical conditions (see Is
Marijuana Medicine?, below).

How is Marijuana Used?

Marijuana is usually smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). It is also smoked in
bluntscigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco. Marijuana smoke has
a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour, odor. Marijuana can also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea.

THC's chemical structure is similar to

the brain chemical anandamide. Similarity in structure allows drugs to be recognized by the body and to alter normal brain

How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?

When marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain
and other organs throughout the body. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink.

However it is ingested, THC acts on specific molecular targets on brain cells, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors
are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC that naturally occur in the body (such as anandamide; see picture,
above) and are part of a neural communication network called the endocannabinoid system. This system plays an important
role in normal brain development and function.

The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking,
concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana overactivates the endocannabinoid
system, causing the high and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood,
impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.

Marijuana also affects brain development, and when it is used heavily by young people, its effects on thinking and memory
may last a long time or even be permanent. A recent study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed
substantially reduced connectivity among brain areas responsible for learning and memory. And a large long-term study in
New Zealand showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost an average of 8 points in IQ
between age 13 and age 38. Importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not fully restored in those who quit smoking
marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana in adulthood did not show significant IQ declines.

What Are the Other Health Effects of Marijuana?

Marijuana use may have a wide range of effects, particularly on cardiopulmonary and mental health.

Marijuana smoke is an irritant to the lungs, and frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems
experienced by tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a
heightened risk of lung infections. One study found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco
have more health problems and miss more days of work than those who dont smoke marijuana, mainly because of
respiratory illnesses. It is not yet known whether marijuana smoking contributes to risk for lung cancer.

Is Marijuana Medicine?

Many have called for the legalization of marijuana to treat conditions including pain and nausea caused by HIV/AIDS,
cancer, and other conditions, but clinical evidence has not shown that the therapeutic benefits of the marijuana plant
outweigh its health risks. To be considered a legitimate medicine by the FDA, a substance must have well-defined and
measurable ingredients that are consistent from one unit (such as a pill or injection) to the next. As the marijuana plant
contains hundreds of chemical compounds that may have different effects and that vary from plant to plant, and because the
plant is typically ingested via smoking, its use as a medicine is difficult to evaluate.

However, THC-based drugs to treat pain and nausea are already FDA approved and prescribed, and scientists continue to
investigate the medicinal properties of other chemicals found in the cannabis plantsuch as cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive
cannabinoid compound that is being studied for its effects at treating pain, pediatric epilepsy, and other disorders. For more
information, see DrugFacts - Is Marijuana Medicine?
Marijuana also raises heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it
was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug.
This risk may be greater in older individuals or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities.

A number of studies have linked chronic marijuana use and mental illness. High doses of marijuana can produce a temporary
psychotic reaction (involving hallucinations and paranoia) in some users, and using marijuana can worsen the course of
illness in patients with schizophrenia. A series of large studies following users across time also showed a link between
marijuana use and later development of psychosis. This relationship was influenced by genetic variables as well as the
amount of drug used, drug potency, and the age at which it was first takenthose who start young are at increased risk for
later problems.

Associations have also been found between marijuana use and other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety,
suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically
rewarding activities. More research is still needed to confirm and better understand these linkages.

Marijuana use during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of neurobehavioral problems in babies. Because THC and
other compounds in marijuana mimic the bodys own endocannabinoid chemicals, marijuana use by pregnant mothers may
alter the developing endocannabinoid system in the brain of the fetus. Consequences for the child may include problems with
attention, memory, and problem solving.

Additionally, because it seriously impairs judgment and motor coordination, marijuana contributes to risk of injury or death
while driving a car. A recent analysis of data from several studies found that marijuana use more than doubles a drivers risk

of being in an accident. The combination of marijuana and alcohol is worse than either substance alone with respect to
driving impairment

Rising Potency
The amount of THC in marijuana samples confiscated by police has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. In
2012, THC concentrations in marijuana averaged close to 15 percent, compared to around 4 percent in the 1980s. For a new
user, this may mean exposure to higher concentrations of THC, with a greater chance of an adverse or unpredictable
reaction. Increases in potency may account for the rise in emergency department visits involving marijuana use. For frequent
users, it may mean a greater risk for addiction if they are exposing themselves to high doses on a regular basis. However, the
full range of consequences associated with marijuana's higher potency is not well understood. For example, experienced
users may adjust their intake in accordance with the potency or they may be exposing their brains to higher levels overall, or

Is Marijuana Addictive?
Contrary to common belief, marijuana is addictive. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become
addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among people
who use marijuana daily (to 25-50 percent).

Long-term marijuana users trying to quit report withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased
appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which can make it difficult to abstain. Behavioral interventions, including
cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational incentives (i.e., providing vouchers for goods or services to patients who
remain abstinent) have proven to be effective in treating marijuana addiction. Although no medications are currently
available, recent discoveries about the workings of the endocannabinoid system offer promise for the development of
medications to ease withdrawal, block the intoxicating effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.

How Does Marijuana Affect a Users Life?

Research shows marijuana may cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. Heavy marijuana
users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, more relationship problems, and less
academic and career success compared to non-marijuana-using peers. For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher
likelihood of dropping out of school. Several studies also associate workers' marijuana smoking with increased absences,
tardiness, accidents, workers' compensation claims, and job turnover.

The Mysterious Chemical That

Eases Pain, But Also Causes It

Endocannabinoids are the body's natural form of THC, a chemical in marijuana that can
ease pain. Now a new study shows this chemical is a double-edged sword, making people
more sensitive to pain too. Could endocannabinoids be used for torture?
Endocannabinoids interact with canniboid receptors the same way the chemical THC in
marijuana does. According to a study published this afternoon in Science, the
endocannabinoid system is more complex than previously believed. Sometimes a spike
in endocannabinoids in the spinal cord releases neurotransmitter chemicals that make
people more likely to feel pain.
A release about the article from Science puts it this way:
Often, in cases of chronic pain, neuron-to-neuron communication is bumped up in a
specific area of the spinal cord. Endocannabinoids (which are the body's version of the
THC in marijuana) have been thought to suppress this type of pain signaling, but
Alejandro Perna-Andrade and an international team of colleagues now show that the
opposite may be true. They found that in rats and mice, painful stimuli can release
endocannabinoids in the spinal cord, which act on a group of neuronal receptors called
the CB1 receptors. This action reduced the release of key neurotransmitters that shuttle
from one neuron to another, with the overall effect of making the neurons more
excitable and thereby sensitizing the animals to certain forms of pain, or even to simple
touch. In another experiment, on human volunteers, the authors found that the drug
rimonabant, which blocks CB1 receptors, decreased pain sensitivity that had been
induced in patches of the volunteers' skin.
We're a long way from being able to control this pain/not-pain system, but knowing that
it's there means more research into it is inevitable. Already endocannabinoids are a
target for a lot of hopeful pharmaceutical companies, who hope to manipulate the
substance to treat everything from chronic pain to obesity.

My question is whether this substance could also become the target of military research
too, since being able to control whether a person feels pain or not is a classic torture
technique. And doing it cleanly, with drugs, could be classified as "humane" under many
systems of regulation. Plus, what's a better way to play pharmaceutical good cop/bad cop
than to administer a drug that causes pain - then eases it?

Marijuana Chemical Could Treat

Children with Epilepsy
By Carl Engelking | February 21, 2014 4:24 pm

A new strain of marijuana has motivated hundreds of families with epileptic children
to pack up and move to Colorado to legally obtain the drug. The jury is still out on
whether this special pot strain does indeed have measurable benefits, or if its even
safe, but drug companies are racing to replicate its effects in pill form.
The therapeutic pot strain, called Charlottes Web, is bred not have THCthe active
ingredient in marijuana. Its namesake is 5-year-old Charlotte Figi, a Colorado girl
who has Dravets syndrome. Charlotte reportedly went from having 300 seizures a
week in 2010 to being virtually seizure-free two years later after connecting with a
nonprofit that grows and produces an oil infused with the special marijuana strain.
Charlottes story has renewed curiosity among researchers in a particular chemical in
pot, cannabidiol (CBD), which could have anti-epileptic properties in humans.
Suppressing Seizures

CBD has shown some signs of promise of suppressing seizures in animals, but testing
in humans is still in its infancy. A small number of case reports exist with conflicting
results, and researchers have conducted just four placebo-controlled clinical trials
that focused on CBDs efficacy as a treatment for epilepsy.

Three of the four trials reported at least some reduction of seizure occurrences,
according to a 2014 review published in Drug Testing and Analysis. However, the
trials only involved 48 patients in total, too small a group from which to draw reliable
The first clinical trial conducted in humans, published in 1980 in
the journalPharmacology, is most frequently cited as evidence of CBDs promise.
Four out of eight test subjects that suffered from epilepsy remained nearly seizurefree throughout the 4-1/2-month experiment, while three others reported slight
improvements. Additionally, people who took CBD didnt report psychoactive side
effects associated with smoking marijuana. The patients took the CBD in 200- to
300-milligram capsules once a day.
Despite the lack of definitive evidence, the National Epilepsy Foundation came out
Thursday to voice strong support for continued research of medical marijuana,
encouraging lawmakers to continue to allow families to use marijuana as a treatment
for their children.
CBD Enters Clinical Trials

This year will shift CBD research up a gear. In October 2013 the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration ruled that clinical trials of CBDs efficacy in epileptic children could
move forward. Clinical trials of a drug called Epidiolex, which contains a purified
form of CBD, started this month. The study will be conducted at five sites, each with
25 children who have epilepsy.
Marcia Roberta Cillio, director of research at UC San Francisco, oversees one of the
trial locations. She explained the research in a news release from UCSF:
Studies in animal models have shows CBD works as an anticonvulsant, but this is
just the initial exploratory step to determine whether further testing of CBD as an
anticonvulsant is warranted, and how it will be conducted. Our current trial will
hopefully lead to a placebo-controlled, blinded clinical trial in the types of epilepsy
that respond best to CBD.
Researchers hope to present initial findings by the middle of this year.