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Marijuana (Botanical name: Cannabis sativa)—also called weed, herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja, Mary Jane, and a vast number of other slang terms—is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves and flowers of Cannabis sativa—the hemp plant. Some users smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints; many use pipes, water pipes (sometimes called bongs), or marijuana cigars called blunts (often made by slicing open cigars and replacing some or all of the tobacco with marijuana).
Marijuana can also be used to brew tea and, particularly when it is sold or consumed for medicinal purposes, is frequently mixed into foods (“edibles”) such as brownies, cookies, or candies. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). It is a psychoactive ingredient. The highest concentrations of THC are found in the leaves and flowers. When marijuana smoke is inhaled, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream and is carried to the brain and other organs throughout the body. THC from the marijuana acts on specific receptors in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, starting off a chain of cellular reactions that finally lead to the euphoria, or “high” that users experience. Certain areas in the brain, such as the hippocampus, the cerebellum, the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex, have a higher concentration of cannabinoid receptors. These areas influence memory, concentration, pleasure, coordination, sensory and time perception. Therefore these functions are most adversely affected by marijuana use. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana, responsible for most of the intoxicating effects sought by recreational users, is delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC). The chemical is found in resin produced by the leaves and buds primarily of the female cannabis plant.
The plant also contains more than 500 other chemicals, including over 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC, called cannabinoids. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). When someone smokes marijuana, THC goes from the lungs into the bloodstream. From there, it ends up in the brain and other organs.THC connects with a receptor on nerve cells in the brain. When these nerve cells are in the parts of the brain that govern sensory perception and pleasure, it causes the marijuana “high.” People who smoke marijuana often have the same respiratory problems as cigarette smokers. These individuals may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. They are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. Marijuana contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarette smoke.When people smoke marijuana for years they can suffer negative consequences.
Because marijuana affects brain function, the ability to do complex tasks could be compromised, as well as the pursuit of academic, athletic, or other life goals that require you to be 100 percent focused and alert. Long-term abuse of marijuana may lead to addiction.Marijuana also may affect mental health. Studies show that early use may increase the risk of developing psychosis (a severe mental disorder in which there is a loss of contact with reality) including false ideas about what is happening (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations), particularly if you carry a genetic vulnerability to the disease. Also, rates of marijuana use are often higher in people with symptoms of depression or anxiety
THC also connects with receptors on nerve cells in other parts of the brain. When those parts of the brain affect thinking, memory, coordination, and concentration, it can cause unwanted side effects, including:
Difficulty thinking and problem solving
Problems with memory and learning
Loss of coordination