What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, the most often used illegal drug in this country, is a product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most.

What are its short-term effects?

Short-term effects of marijuana include disrupted learning and memory, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. These effects are even greater when other drugs (including alcohol) are mixed with weed. A user may also experience dry mouth.

What are its long-term effects?

Marijuana increases the risk of chronic cough, bronchitis, increases risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. May increase risk of anxiety, depression and a series of attitude and personality changes, known as “amotivational syndrome.” This syndrome is characterized by a diminished ability to carry out long-term plans, a sense of apathy, decreased attention to appearance and behavior, and decreased ability to concentrate for long periods of time. These changes can also include poor performance in school. Marijuana, just like any other drug, can lead to addiction. It affects the brain’s reward system in the same way as all other drugs of addiction – and the likelihood of addiction increases considerably for those who start young.

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Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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