Pronounced as /ˌmærəˈwɑːnə/

Marijuana is an illegal drug made from Cannabis Sativa. The hemp plant is used not only for its dried leaves and stems but also from its flowers and seeds.

It possesses the substance ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to which it becomes responsible for the psychological responses of the drug. Acting as cannabinoid chemicals in the body, these attach to receptors located in areas of the brain that trigger memory, coordination and thinking. With THC activating, this gives a heightened effect—eventually distorting how these parts function.

Along with THC, this drug also possesses active compounds like cannabidiol, which has effects that are not as mind-altering as THC. It is the use of this compound why marijuana is considered an aid to medical wellness.

What are the other names of marijuana?

Latin Scientific Names

Cannabis Indica

Cannibis ruderalis

Cannibis Sativa

Street Names

420

Alfalfa

Alligator Cigarette

Ashes

Asparagus

Astro turf

Aunt Mary

Bhang

Blue Sage

Blunt

Broccoli

Bubble Gum

Cannon

Dope

Gangster

Herb

Mary Jane

Joint

Reefer

Skunk

Weed

Names based on quality/location

Good Quality Cannabis

Bud

Chronic

Dank

Good stuff

Hydro

Kind bud

Nug

Righteous Bush

Poor Cannabis

Bammies

Cabbage

Charge

Dirt Grass

Burger

Ragweed

Swag

Geographical Names

Black Russian

Texas Tea

Thai Stick

Maui Wowie

Colombo

Panama Gold

Marijuana Use: How They Look and How They Work

Because this drug is recognized in several forms, it takes time to differentiate one form from another.

Weed

Appearance-wise, weed has a greenish hue and herbal texture with dried leaves and stems tied together in a bunch. Its smell is particularly distinct—similar to smoked but at the same time unburnt earth. From the outside, it has the appearance of kitchen herbs, which is why herbs are sometimes mixed with weed to make it look inconspicuous.

Hashish

A cannabis-based resin that is dried and preserved into blocks. In solid form, hashish has the consistency of gum or licorice and when smoked, it comes off as an oily substance. It is used along with tobacco and can also be smoked using a pipe and bong.

Hashish comes in different shades of brown, almost black and the lightest type has a hint of dirty yellow. It also varies in textures: on the surface, it can be shiny or matte. Other types of hashish are pliable while some can be as tough as dessert fudge.

Another form of hashish is in condensed oil form—and it is probably the least commonly used type of this drug. A small amount is enough for the effects to come through and is combined in cigarettes or smoked in a pipe. They can also be found in travel-sized bottles or plastic bags.

Marijuana Ingestible

Known as Cannabis edibles, these are food and beverages infused with the drug. It is a means of taking the drug without having to go through the smoking or inhaling process. The drug can easily be put into baked goods (specifically brownies, cookies, chocolates), in tea or into cooked foods as oil and butter.

Definite amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannot be determined in these products. Because of this, there is a risk of ingesting edibles in large doses since its effects would not manifest until 45 minutes to 3 hours later once the drug is absorbed by the bloodstream immediately after eating. Physical effects can be felt as soon as 20 minutes but it varies in different individuals.

Marijuana Paraphernalia

Users turn to devices that allow them to regularly take the drug long-term. For the weed forms mentioned above (aside from food), they are consumed using pipes, water pipes, bongs and e-cigarettes (vaping).

Cigarettes

A common use of the drug is through cigarettes that are hand-rolled. These are dried weed buds combined with tobacco or on their own to produce something known as a joint. These cigarettes can be dried or wet, depending on how the user makes them.

A cigar can be cut open, removing the tobacco and replacing it with marijuana. This is referred to as a blunt. Tobacco pipes can also be used. Also a popular way of smoking is using water pipes that have a long tube rising out of a bowl that sees the user inhaling the smoke.

Medical Marijuana

Different from the illegal form of the drug, this refers to the pure cannabis indica plant that contains the two components tested to help cure diseases: the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (TBC) and cannabidiol (CBD) chemicals.

The proposal for submitting this drug as an alternative to medicine has been brought to the public’s attention. Clinical trials, however, have yet to push through. Without the trials, there will be no long-term study and proof that marijuana in this form can indeed help with symptoms of illnesses. Moreover, the Federal Drug Administration has yet to give their approval on its continued use either. (FDA, 2018)

In the United States, 29 of 50 states took it upon legislation for the right to use medical marijuana. A 2013 survey by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that 8 out of 10 doctors recommend this drug to their patients, particularly seniors, because of its efficiency on lessening and eventually curing symptoms of life-threatening diseases such as cancer and the long-term discomfort of migraine, nerve damage and arthritis.

Medical marijuana is not just a cure for physical illnesses. General symptoms for a variety of mental disorders including anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder have shown improvement once the drug was introduced to their system on a regular basis.

However, not all effects of medical marijuana are positive. Some patients manifest panic attacks after smoking the drug. Consulting a medical professional for a full diagnosis and check-up would still be the best option.

How strong is marijuana?

Through the years, marijuana has increased its potency. The enhancement in production of the drug has made it stronger now than 3 to 5 decades ago (1960s to 1980s) and this is thanks to the increase of THC levels by 15%. Marijuana extracts as seen in dabbing and food can multiply its strength by an average of 50% to 90%--garnering the effects of being psychoactive and delivering additional effects on the body and brain in the duration of its use.

The way the drug is produced also affects its potency. Indoor-made cannabis has 2-3 times greater potency than that of imported cannabis.

How long does marijuana stay in your system, blood, urine, saliva, hair?

Blood

Regardless of how the drug is ingested, traces of THC can be detected in the individual’s bloodstream 12 to 48 hours after use. For regular and frequent use, the drug can be detected even after 20 or 25 days.

Urine

Between blood and urine, the presence of marijuana in urine has a greater chance of being measured through tests. A urine test is the common test form for the drug. Depending on the frequency of use, it remains inside the system for the following period:

  • Occasional use (using 3x a week): 72 hours or 3 days
  • Moderate use (using 4x or more): 5 to 7 days
  • Chronic use (daily use; 7 days): 10 to 15 days
  • Chronic heavy use (two to multiple times in a day): more than 30 days

Saliva

Smoking and inhaling cause the drug to be detected in the saliva. A sample of oral fluid can be tested when one is caught or in situations where there are no testing centers or tools available.

  • Occasional use: 1 to 3 days
  • Chronic use: 1 to 29 days

Hair

Traces of the drug can be found in a user’s hair through blood vessels. For drug use of up to 90 days, a 1.5 inch strand of hair can be taken from the scalp to test drug usage in a span of 3 months.

What are the short and long-term effects of marijuana?

Aside from the feelings of pleasure and the painkiller effect, there are other short-term and long-term effects associated with the use of this drug.

Short-term effects

Increased heart rate

Increased risk of having a stroke

Lower testosterone levels (for men)

Increased prolactin levels that can lead to lack of milk secretion (for women)

Low blood pressure

Muscle relaxation

Short-term memory problem

Emotional and physical dependency on use

Distorted perception

Difficulty and detached problem solving skills

Long-term effects

Lack of movement coordination

Impaired motor movement

Memory and learning disruption

Early signs or evolution of psychosis

Panic attacks

Hallucinations

Impaired learning abilities

Addiction

Potential opiate abuse

Increased hunger

Is marijuana dangerous?

Marijuana addiction, like all similar addictions, can develop an increased level of dependency on the drug. It seems harmless at first—until the doses become more frequent and more potent. Prolonged usage of the drug (especially at an early age) poses many side effects and potential long-term damage to the body.

What are the withdrawal symptoms of marijuana?

Physical

Bloodshot eyes

Slurred speech

Dry mouth

Increase rate of vital signs

Behavioral

Agitation

Anxiety or irritability

Insomnia

Fatigue

Depression

Lack of motivation

A change in friends

Shift of activities and interests

How can you treat marijuana addiction?

Learning New Life Skills.

Focus more on knowing and improving yourself. Get a new hobby and try something new. Improve social interaction or find contentment in your well-being.

Detoxification and Rehabilitation.

It is important for the drug to be eliminated from the body. Start with a recovery program that allows a user to be detached from using. The process is a slow and steady one that can go from 8 to 10 weeks under supervision and dedication.

THC, the active chemical ingredient in the drug, clings on to fat. Activities for the rehabilitation process includes a low-heat sauna and a lifestyle change. Exposing the body to steam allows toxins (including THC) to evaporate from the body and lessen addictive symptoms.

A lifestyle change can also be a long-term diagnosis for marijuana dependence. A patient needs to focus his/her energy on improving their physical, emotional and mental well-being. This can be accomplished through a balanced diet, exercise and frequent social interactions.

Effects of these activities are gradual but hold a strong impact once the patient moves from rehabilitation to daily living.