What is Marijuana? An Overview

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 Marijuana  is the common name for the psychoactive genetic variation of the cannabis sativa plant. Used for over a thousand years in central Asia, it has been smoked for over a century in America, gaining wide usage during the counterculture 1960’s, and ever since then has been the most widely used illicit drug in America.

The strength and potency has increased greatly through advances in genetic manipulation and growing conditions (hydroponics), and today’s  marijuana  can be as much as 15 times stronger than the drug of the 1960’s and 70’s. This dramatic increase in potency has nullified much of our understanding of the effects of the drug, and any research done on the intoxication and damages of the smoked drug prior to about a decade ago do not accurately reflect the realities of today’s  marijuana .

The main active ingredient is Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which binds to the CB1 receptors of our cannibanoid systems in the brain and throughout the body. It is the THC that gets you high, and it is the THC content that has been steadily increasing over the past decades.

Although THC is the primary intoxicating active substance, there are an additional 400 active or semi active substance present in varying degrees in different strains of  marijuana . Of these 400 active substances, few have been clinically explored, and although they do certainly exert some psychotropic influence, researchers do not fully understand what this influence may be. Smokers will realize that variations in the expression of these different molecules cause the high from different types of  marijuana  to be quite different.

These 400 active molecules also seem important for the drugs efficacy as a medication, and although scientists have synthesized THC in a pill form, the absence of this comprehensive mix of other chemicals seems to decrease the usefulness of this synthesized medication.  Medical   marijuana  remains a controversial topic, even within the  medical  community, and although a great many public health groups have called for its usage, the AMA and the FDA most notably oppose its approval.

What Happens When You Smoke  Marijuana ?

After smoking, the THC and other active chemicals are absorbed through the lungs and passed quickly into the bloodstream; and within about a minute the effects of the THC start to be felt. The intensity of the high will continue to increase for about 20 minutes, before plateauing and gradually leveling off over about 2 hours.

When you smoke, the THC absorbed into the bloodstream passes into the brain and attaches itself to receptors in the endo cannibanoid system, a system found throughout many higher order parts of the brain. Once these receptors in the brain are stimulated by THC, the user begins to experience changes in sensory perception, in time perception, in concentration and cognitive abilities, in coordination, and in appetite. The endo cannibanoid system is linked to the pleasure system of the brain, and when activated it causes a dopaminergic reaction, allowing for pleasurable and relaxed sensations in addition to these other sensory alterations. For the vast majority of users,  marijuana  provokes a relaxed and enjoyable high that lasts for a couple of hours, and leaves little obvious harm in its wake.

When  marijuana  is taken in very large doses, it can cause hallucinogenic reactions. Some users will also experience negative reactions to the drug, such as anxiety, paranoia and panic, and a full 30% of users who eventually give up the drug report that they do so as a result of these experienced negative sensations.

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Source by Christian Shire