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What is Marijuana?
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds. THC is a mind-altering drug, causing the user to feel euphoria or a high. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant.
THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. Marijuana over activates parts of the brain that contain the highest number of these receptors. This causes the “high” that people feel.
Other effects include:
- altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
- altered sense of time
- changes in mood
- impaired body movement
- difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- impaired memory
- hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
- delusions (when taken in high doses)
- psychosis (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana)
Physical effects of marijuana use include respiratory irritation, hunger, weight gain, increase risk of heart attack, and dry mouth.
Long term effects of marijuana use are believed to include impairment in brain development.
Signs of Abuse
- Taking marijuana everyday
- Wanting the need to be high
- Short term memory loss
- Decreased motivation
- Impairment in work and social settings
Behavioral changes are most effective for treatment of marijuana abuse. Individual therapy and group therapy sessions are beneficial to prevent relapse and quality of life.