Also Called: 
cannabis, weed, pot, green, herb, bud, dope, ganja, chronic, reefer, Mary Jane

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is the dried flowers, stems and leaves of a plant called Cannabis. It is an illegal drug.

The main active ingredient in marijuana is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

It is usually smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or in pipes or water pipes (bongs). Marijuana has a strong smell that lingers longer than tobacco smoke. People use it to get high, feel relaxed, happy and loosened up.

Some common side-effects are: short term memory loss, dry mouth, red eyes and feelings of anxiety.

Other stronger forms of the drug include hashish (hash), hash oil, “special brownies” or “pot cookies.”

Marijuana can affect the way your brain works.

Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana kicks in within minutes of smoking it and the high usually lasts two or three hours.

After smoking marijuana, you may feel relaxed, happy and talkative. Your senses may be altered and time may speed up or slow down. You may also feel anxious.

As the high continues, you may begin to notice changes like a loss of energy and less desire to socialize. Your body may also begin to feel heavy and your movements may become sloppy and sluggish. You might also notice that you have a hard time remembering things that just happened. People often feel an intense desire to eat—what’s known as “the munchies”— after smoking marijuana. Some people become overly suspicious, worried, and panicky (a.k.a. "paranoid") or begin to feel really anxious.

Smoking too much marijuana can cause you to feel light-headed and weak. You might feel very uncomfortable, or like you have lost control of your body.

Problems Using Marijuana

Like other illegal drugs, it is impossible to know exactly what you are getting when you buy marijuana. Some strains of weed are way stronger than others, or cause you to feel a whole different set of effects. Though marijuana is less likely to be “laced” or mixed with other drugs than hard drugs are, it still happens. Weed is most commonly laced with speed, cocaine, or PCP.

Research from different areas is suggesting that regular marijuana use by young people can have long-lasting negative effects on the structure and function of their brains. Problems with marijuana are more common for people who smoke a lot over a longer period of time, but there have been reported cases of people experiencing hallucinations and complete loss of touch with reality after smoking it only once. Research

also suggests that for people with mental health disorders, symptoms can be brought on sooner if they smoke pot.

A series of large ongoing studies is also showing links between marijuana use and the development of mental health disorders later in life. Some young people will already be more likely to develop mental health disorders than others based on the medical histories of their family members, but those who start smoking pot young are at increased risk for later problems. Using marijuana can make the illness worse for people with schizophrenia.

Links have also been found between marijuana use and other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality issues, including a lack of motivation. More research is still needed to confirm and better understand these links.

Dependence on Marijuana

When someone uses marijuana regularly, they can begin to feel like they have to use more and more each time to get the same feeling of being high.

If you keep using more and more marijuana, and find it difficult to stop, you may have developed a dependence on the drug. If a person is dependent on marijuana and suddenly stops using it, they can have withdrawal symptoms.  Some people have difficulties with concentration, memory, learning and sleeping after quitting.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • irritability, anxiety and nervousness
  • anger and aggression
  • loss of appetite
  • excessive sweating (particularly at night)
  • restless sleep with strange nightmares

I’d like to quit drinking and smoking weed but I’m scared I'm going to be really bored. What kind of stuff can I do to have fun sober?

When you're used to a certain lifestyle, it can be really hard to try something new, but some possibilites are: working out, sports, or going out on the land. Another is focusing on others – like helping elders with things they can’t do easily anymore. Give back to your community. Volunteer.  Learn a musical instrument. Find a hobby. It isn’t going to be the same, but that's the point right?

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