Marijuana refers to the leaves, stems and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant that are smoked, ingested or vaporized. Marijuana’s main psychoactive constituent, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 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 take effect when it is ingested, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Is Marijuana Illegal?
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among the general population, having seen a rise in usage in the last decade despite a drop during the 1990s. Marijuana is commonly referred to as weed, herb or greens, and is permitted for medical use in 25 states (and the District of Columbia) although it remains prohibited on a federal level. While marijuana advocates have pushed to change the schedule of marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced in July 2016 that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Marijuana is also the most commonly used illicit drug by teens. According to the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 35 percent of high school seniors smoked marijuana in the past year, while one in 17 high school seniors – or 6 percent – reported that they smoked marijuana daily or almost on a daily basis in 2015.
Due to its oily nature, the scent of cannabis can take days to dissipate. Because of this, many teens as well as adults employ a litany of methods for disguising their use. The ingestion of THC in edible form (such as brownies or rice crispy treats) is also becoming more prevalent, as it does not leave any incriminating scent behind and is easily disposed. Chronic marijuana use can be physically and psychologically addictive for teens, despite the common belief that marijuana is not an addictive drug.