Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S., although currently, several states have made the use of this drug legal for recreational and medical use. Marijuana, also referred to as “pot,” “hash,” and “weed” is made from the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant, which contains the drug’s main chemical, THC.
Marijuana is typically smoked but can also be consumed via “edibles” such as cookies or pot brownies. Like other drugs, marijuana alters the brain. The chemical, THC, gives the user a high that can heighten senses temporarily, alter mood, and cause impaired memory, mild hallucinations, and even paranoia.
In addition to recreational use, medical marijuana is prescribed by a physician to help control nausea and loss of appetite in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and as a medicinal aid for people who suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, and epilepsy.
Long Term Effects of Marijuana Use
Studies have shown that marijuana affects brain development, especially in adolescents. Teens who use the drug may experience impaired thinking and memory as well as learning issues. While not as addictive as drugs such as nicotine, alcohol, and opioids, marijuana has been linked to the development of a substance use disorder, where an individual is unable to stop using the substance. Many of the adverse health effects include changes to memory and cognitive impairment. Some long-term marijuana users have also reported symptoms of withdrawal when trying to quit.
Information on marijuana and its health effects:
- For Teens - https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
For Parents – Talking to your teens about drug use - https://teens.drugabuse.gov/parents