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 Abuse

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.

Short-term Effects

When cannabis products containing high amounts of THC are consumed, teens can experience greater impairments and harm. Physical and psychological effects of marijuana include:

  • Altered sensory experiences and sense of time
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in time perception
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Blood sugar changes
  • Dizziness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Red eyes
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety/paranoia

Marijuana, or cannabis, has painkilling as well as anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties when smoked or ingested. Due mostly to its ability to reduce inflammation and its stimulation of the central nervous system, cannabis induces a feeling of relaxation, which users commonly cite as their primary reason for use.

Long-term Effects

Marijuana’s effects on the hippocampus, cerebral cortex and cerebellum (regions of the brain responsible for memory, concentration/perception and motor coordination, respectively) cause a temporary reduction in the functionality of and communication between these brain regions. Some consider marijuana to be a “gateway drug” that can lead to the use of more dangerous substances such as heroin. Other long-term consequences of marijuana abuse include:

  • Altered function of the brain’s reward system, which can increase the tendency to use drugs later in life
  • Problems with learning and retaining memories
  • Impaired impulse control
  • Decline in IQ
  • Respiratory problems (e.g., chronic chest infections or bronchitis)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heightened heart attack risk
  • Temporary hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling sensations that aren’t really there)
  • Paranoia
  • Disorganized cognition

Chronic marijuana use among teens can also heighten their risk of depressive and anxiety disorders and make them more likely to experience suicidal thoughts. Although marijuana is arguably the least dangerous of all the illicit drugs, recent studies suggest that marijuana use can trigger paranoia and other psychotic symptoms in young people who are genetically vulnerable.

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Marijuana Addiction

Despite the common belief that marijuana is not an addictive drug, the NIDA reported that 30 percent of marijuana users will experience some type of problematic use of marijuana. Chronic marijuana users are more likely to develop physical dependence and addiction. Some of the withdrawal symptoms experienced by people with marijuana dependence and addiction include anxiety, irritability, cravings and sleeping difficulties.

Rehab For Weed Abuse and Addiction at Rancho San Diego

Marijuana rehab at Rancho San Diego offers comprehensive programs to teens that include evidence-based treatments such as behavioral therapy and complementary treatments such as neurofeedback. We also offer marijuana detox programs. Our multidisciplinary health care professionals at our marijuana rehab in San Diego County understand the pressures of adolescence and tailor treatment plans for each patient.

Sovereign Health’s Joint Commission-accredited marijuana rehabilitation centers constantly work to help patients stay clear of mind and focused on healthy pursuits. Our marijuana rehab centers offer comprehensive behavioral health treatments for patients who need rehab for weed abuse or dependence. If you are interested in learning more about Sovereign Health’s adolescent programs or marijuana treatment centers, please contact our 24/7 helpline.

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