Marijuana is recreational mild hallucinogen cultivated from the hemp plant scientifically referred to as Cannabis sativa. The plant’s main psychoactive ingredient is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and compounds called cannabinoids (CBD). Highly refined and potent extracts can be derived from these compounds and made into oil-based medicines and tonics for medicinal use.
Marijuana is the most prevalent and widely abused drug in the United States with young people beginning as early as grade school and continuing to use well into high school and college. Rates of use have begun to stabilize after years of steady increase and the overall feeling among young people in the U.S. is that marijuana is generally harmless.
This trend has been reflected in the growing number of U.S. states that have newly adopted legislation allowing recreational and medicinal use of the drug.
How is Marijuana Consumed?
Marijuana can be administered through many different means with the most popular being inhalation via smoke. Users either smoke it in hand-rolled cigarette papers known as joints or in smoking apparatus’ like bongs and hookahs. Some people even empty the contents of cigars and use the outer leaf to roll a cigar version of the joint referred to as a blunt. The following are some slang terms used to denote marijuana in the street:
Aside from smoking even more industrious and healthy methods have surfaced for ingesting the drug. Vaporization is one such method that incinerates the marijuana at higher temperatures than conventional means like combustion which produce smoke as opposed to vapor. Vaporization extracts more of the psychoactive THC and CBD components of the plant and is therefore a very desirable way and efficient way of consuming the drug. There are many different vaporizer systems on the market designed to deliver the drug in anything from a pen to a more elaborate design with balloon and hose delivery mechanisms.
A newly emerging niche in the marijuana market is the ever-expanding edible and extract products. Edibles are made from cooking marijuana in fat soluble lipids and creating confectionaries like brownies and cookies. Extracts are extremely potent delivery systems that contain a much higher concentration of THC and CBD. They come in extremely viscous black goo and run the spectrum of colors and consistency with the darker and more dense varieties often being more powerful during onset. Consuming extracts is known on the streets as dabbing. Tinctures are even made from the drug using alcohol as the solvent base.
A disturbing instance of emergency room visits have taken place as a result of this considerably more potent derivative of marijuana. Depending on how they are derived they can be more dangerous with butane derived extracts being the most harmful due the the flammable and volatile nature of the chemical solvent. Even the vaporizer pens which are generally thought to be healthier are made with propylene glycol which has been demonstrated to have carcinogenic properties. The following are some slang terms for marijuana extracts:
- Hash Oil
- Honey Oil
Marijuana has been shown to act on specific receptor cells in the brain that have an affinity towards THC and also happen to produce them naturally on their own. When marijuana is consumed it agitates these areas of the brain and throw them out of whack disrupting the natural production inside the brain. The result is a marijuana induced psychosis that comes due to artificial tampering with the serotonin levels of the brain. The following are some of the short-term initial effects of marijuana on the user perception and brain:
- Altered sense of taste or smell (kinesthesia)
- Time and Space distortion
- Mood Elevation
- Impaired or reduced balance (proprioception)
- Impaired Memory
- Reduced Critical Thinking
They are long-term effects of the drug which haven’t been studied nearly as extensively and we are yet to still see the full range of damage. Many long-term users report being more prone to depression and anxiety issues as the ability for marijuana to treat their conditions is less and less effective the longer the user has been consuming marijuana. Some studies have shown reduction in fertility in adult males as well as lower sperm counts.
Is Marijuana Really Worth it?
Despite it being perceived as a relatively safe and harmless drug marijuana has many side-effects that are still largely unknown. The cases for medicinal usage of the drug are extremely rare and often blown out of proportion by proponents of the drug. Marijuana is highly addictive and when used recreationally can lead to symptoms of psychosis later in adult life once the effects of the drug begin to develop a resistance due to years of abuse. If you or someone you know uses marijuana recreationally as a means to escape or de-stress please get them help.