Mar 7

Drug Fact Sheet: Marijuana


Today’s blog on marijuana looks at its origin story and its mental and physical effects. Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The cannabis plant contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is what gives people the high. There are many ways to consume marijuana including smoking using various paraphernalia, vaporizing, and eating it mixed into food like cookies.

 

History

Marijuana dates back at least 4000 years with references to it in ancient Chinese medical texts. It is believed to have spread from there to India, the Middle East, and then Europe about 1500 years ago. The Chinese used it to treat rheumatism, gout, and malaria. It seems it was mainly used recreationally in India and the Middle East. Hashish was developed in the Middle East and spread to North Africa. In the 1500s and 1600s Europeans brought the crop over to the Americas and hemp was relied upon until cotton overtook it in popularity in the early 1900s. In the 1900s, marijuana was still being used medicinally for ailments like rheumatism, pain, and nausea. However, in the 1930s, the US government began an image war against marijuana claiming it was “a powerful, addictive substance that would lead users into narcotics addiction”. In the decades following, it became intrinsically associated with college kids and hippies who flaunted its use against authority and politics of the time. The decades-long war on drugs is now largely regarded as a failure, and the US and Canada are now looking at decriminalization of marijuana.

 

Effects

Smoking marijuana delivers the drug quickly and effects come on within minutes. Eating takes longer for the drug to absorb, taking effect 30 to 60 minutes after consumption. THC can alter the user’s sense of time, body awareness, mood, and memory. Researchers believe they have found that teenagers who use marijuana heavily lose some brain function into adulthood. However, they have not noticed the same loss in adults who started using marijuana as adults.

Some people who heavily use marijuana report having mild withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and lack of sleep and appetite. There are no pharmacological responses for these symptoms, but various therapies have shown to be very effective. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of overuse or withdrawal symptoms, please contact our specialist for help.

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