Marijuana-A description of the drug and its aeffects.

Essay by oozzozoHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. It is made from the dried leaves and flowering tops of the Indian hemp plant Cannabis Sativa. People smoke, chew, or eat marijuana for its hallucinogenic and intoxicating effects. The flowering tops of the Cannabis plant secrete a sticky resin that contains the active ingredient of marijuana, known as Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The plant has both male and female forms. The sticky flowers of the female plant are the most potent. Hashish is a similar drug prepared from the same plant. It differs from marijuana in that it is made of only the resin from the plant, but where marijuana is made up of flowering tops and leaves.

The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The membranes of certain nerve cells in the brain contain protein receptors that bind to THC. Once securely in place, THC initiates a series of cellular reactions that lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana.

There are usually phases in marijuana use there are: intoxication, initial stimulation, which includes giddiness and euphoria, followed by sedation and pleasant tranquility. Mood changes are often accompanied by altered perceptions of time and space. Thinking processes become disrupted by fragmentary ideas and memories. Other feelings include increased appetite, heightened sensory awareness, and general feelings of pleasure.

Negative effects of marijuana use can include confusion, acute panic reactions, anxiety attacks, fear, a sense of helplessness, and loss of self-control. Like alcohol intoxication, marijuana intoxication impairs judgment, comprehension, memory, speech, problem-solving ability, reaction time, and driving skills. Although marijuana is not physically addicting and no physical withdrawal symptoms occur when use is discontinued, psychological dependence develops in some 10 to 20 percent of long-term regular users. Smoking marijuana can damage the...