Known by a variety of names, such as weed, pot, herb and dope, marijuana is derived from the leaves, stems and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant and can be smoked, ingested or vaporized. Marijuana is also the most commonly used illicit drug by teenagers and young adults. Classified as a Schedule I substance, marijuana contains more than 60 cannabinoids, including delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The main psychoactive constituent in marijuana is THC which works by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain and produce a “high.” THC is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when it is smoked or vaporized, while it can take an hour or two to show its effect when ingested.
On ingestion, these chemicals enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain where they bind to receptors and affect the mind and body in various ways. It can give rise to varied emotions like happiness, altered senses, impaired body movement and increased sociability. Whether smoked, brewed or eaten, regular use of marijuana can lead to disastrous consequences, along with physical and behavioral changes, in the user.
Is marijuana illegal?
Marijuana use soared in the last decade despite a drop in its use during the 1990s. Although it remains prohibited at the federal level, marijuana is permitted for medical use in 29 American states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. While advocates of medical marijuana have been striving hard to get the category of marijuana changed, the drug still remains a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Despite the common belief that marijuana is not an addictive drug, chronic marijuana use can be physically and psychologically addictive for teenagers. Marijuana abuse can result in problems with learning, memory, mood and social behavior, and can lead to dependence, tolerance and addiction.
As the scent of cannabis can take days to dissipate, many teenagers and adults employ a litany of methods for disguising their use. Marijuana-infused edibles, such as brownies or rice crispy treats, have become popular because they do not leave any incriminating scent behind and can be easily disposed of.
Despite its popularity, its use among teenagers has seen a steady decline in recent years. As per recent statistics, marijuana use among adolescents (aged 12 to 17) was lower in 2016 compared to that during 2009-2014. According to the 2016 monitoring the future (MTF) survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), though marijuana use among 12th graders has been quite steady for several years, its prevalence among 8th and 10th graders has seen a steady decline. The survey also pointed to a significant decline in marijuana use in 2016 for the three grades combined.