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Understanding Cannabis & Marijuana

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. at describes marijuana as:

“Derived from the hemp plant, cannabis sativa, marijuana, is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves. Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused illicit drug in the U.S. While marijuana contains more than 400 different chemicals, the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The level of THC content in marijuana after cultivation can range from less than 1% to more than 30% and has been increasing dramatically, making marijuana increasingly potent and more addictive.”

Marijuana may be smoked in cigarette form (i.e., joint), in a cigar (i.e., blunt) or in a pipe or water bong. Smoking marijuana is the fastest method of transferring the THC chemical into the bloodstream, where it is carried to the brain and other organs. Marijuana can also be made into food, or brewed as a tea, which takes longer to absorb into the blood stream, taking longer for the user to feel the intoxicating effects of the drug. Users experience a “high” from marijuana because it targets the specific brain cells called cannabinoid receptors, found in a part of the brain that influences pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. This high makes users feel a temporary sense of well-being and relaxation, impairs coordination and their ability to concentrate and problem-solve. The National Institute on Drug Abuse website indicates that about 1 in 11 marijuana users may become addicted.

There may be several warning signs of marijuana use that can help you spot a problem. These may include behavioral changes (e.g., school problems, rebellion against family rules, switching friends, sloppy appearance, lack of involvement in former interests); emotional changes (e.g., mood changes, irritability, defensiveness, ‘nothing matters’ attitude); mental changes (e.g., memory lapses, poor concentration); or physical changes (e.g., low energy, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, slurred speech). If you suspect that someone you know may have a problem with marijuana use, don’t hesitate to get professional support and help.

Call the Lifeways at 541-889-9167 for additional information.


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