Marijuana is the most widely used illegal substance in the world today. It's use is also the most controversial. With legalization efforts underway, it is important to have the facts. Marijuana is currently legal in some form in eleven states in the U.S. Other states are evaluating legalization. Some cities have legalized marijuana like Brekenridge, Colorado, however, the state of Colorado nor the Federal Government has legalized the growing or use of marijuana.
Marijuana is made from the plant cannabis sativa, a plant that grows wild (and is also cultivated indoors and out) throughout many regions. Most of the marijuana used in the United States comes from sources in the U.S., Mexico ("Mexican Red/Brown"), and Canada ("BC Bud").
Marijuana consists of the buds, leaves, and resin of the cannabis plant. The stalks and sterilized seeds are considered "hemp." The plant, cannabis sativa, contains chemicals called "cannabinoids."
THC (delta-9-tetrhydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid believed to be responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
THC can be found in all parts of the cannabis plant, including hemp. This is why hemp is regulated carefully--some hemp products such as clothing, rope, yarn, lotion and soap are legal products because they do not cause THC to enter the human body.
"While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, have been found to contain THC. The existence of THC in hemp is significant because THC, like marijuana, is a schedule I controlled substance."
A pharmaceutical product, Marinol, is widely available through prescription. It comes in the form of a pill and is also being studied by researchers for suitability via other delivery methods, such as an inhaler or patch. The active ingredient of Marinol is synthetic THC, which has been found to relieve the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy for cancer patients and to assist with loss of appetite with AIDS patients. Another product, Cesamet, which is similar to Marinol, is to be released in the U.S. in June of 2006.
"There are no FDA-approved medications that are smoked. For one thing, smoking is generally a poor way to deliver medicine. It is difficult to administer safe, regulated dosages of medicines in smoked form. Secondly, the harmful chemicals and carcinogens that are byproducts of smoking create entirely new health problems. There are four times the level of tar in a marijuana cigarette, for example, than in a tobacco cigarette.
"Smoking marijuana may increase the risk of cancer more than smoking tobacco. Marijuana smoke contains 50% to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. It also produces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into their carcinogenic form--levels that may accelerate the canges that ultimately produce malignant cells." (Source: NIDA)
"It has been estimated that smoking a cannabis cigarette (containing only herbal cannabis) results in an approximately five-fold greater increase in carboxyhaemoglobin concentration, a three-fold greater increase in the amount of tar inhaled, and a retention in the respiratory tract of one third more tar than smoking a tobacco cigarette."
More information is available in the Marijuana Grow Booklet available and in the Marijuana Grow brochure below.
In May 2006, a study was published by UCLA that disputes the claims that marijuana causes lung cancer.
The majority of marijuana is smoked, although some users ingest it orally (added to brownies, cookies, etc.). Marijuana is usually smoked in the form of loosely rolled cigarettes called "joints," hollowed out commercial cigars called "blunts," smoked in pipes or bongs. Joints and blunts are sometimes laced with a number of adulterants including PCP, cocaine and embalming fluid (a chemical traditionally used to preserve dead bodies)--resulting in a wide range of effects.
SHORT TERM EFFECTS of marijuana use include: impaired short-term memory, impaired concentration, attention, and judgment; impaired coordination and balance, increased heart rate, blood shot or red eyes, dry mouth and increased appetite (the "munchies").
* Occasional effects, especially with long term use, include anxiety, panic, and paranoia.
LONG TERM EFFECTS of marijuana use include addiction (psychological), paranoia, persistent anxiety, impaired learning skills and memory difficulties.
MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS associated with marijuana use include an increased risk of chronic cough, bronchitis, and emphysema; increased risk of cancer of the head, neck, and lungs; a decrease in testosterone levels and lower sperm counts for men and an increase in testosterone levels for women and increased risk of infertility.
More information on marijuana grows is available in the Marijuana Grow brochure available. Follow the "Shopping" link.
* Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual's heart begins beating more rapidly, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. The heart rate, normally 70 to 80 beats per minute, may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute or, in some cases, even double. This effect can be greater if other drugs are taken with marijuana.
Studies show that approximately 6 to 11 percent of fatal accident victims test positive for THC. In many of these cases, alcohol is detected as well. In a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a moderate dose of marijuana alone was shown to impair driving performance; however, the effects of even a low dose of marijuana combined with alcohol were markedly greater than for either drug alone. Driving indices measured included reaction time, visual search frequency (driver checking side streets), and the ability to perceive and/or respond to changes in the relative velocity of other vehicles.
Cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs may also be promoted by marijuana smoke. A study comparing 173 cancer patients and 176 healthy individuals produced strong evidence that smoking marijuana increases the likelihood of developing cancer of the head or neck, and that the more marijuana smoked, the greater the increase. A statistical analysis of the data suggested that marijuana smoking doubled or tripled the risk of these cancer.
Marijuana has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because it contains irritants and carcinogens.42 In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke.43 It also produces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into their carcinogenic form, levels that may accelerate the changes that ultimately produce malignant cells.44 Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which increases the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. These facts suggest that, puff for puff, smoking marijuana may increase the risk of cancer more than smoking tobacco does.