Drug Fact Sheet Kristine Mitchell

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Drug Fact Sheet

Kristine Mitchell

Moraine Park Technical College Student

Photo: http://amsterdamcannabisministry.com/

Cannabis is a [hemp] plant with the botanical name Cannabis stiva. Typically the flowers and leaves are dried and smoked in cigarette form or in pipes. It can be ingested by eating it in baked goods and various foods. The resin of the cannabis plant is referred to as hash and is stronger than cannabis. There are male and female plants of cannabis making it a dioecious plant. Often the male plant is removed before pollination to promote higher strength THC in the female plants. Many of the more than 421 chemicals in marijuana have not identified. THC however is the primary agent and causes mind-altering effects. Sinsemilla (the buds of the female plant) is a special marijuana plant with higher levels of THC. THC levels in the marijuana sold in the US range from 0.5% to 11%.

Trends in Cannabis

Consumption in the U.S.

In the U.S. cannabis use for making rope dates back to 1611. By 1630 many clothes were made from hemp fiber. Even George Washington cultivated hemp. For medicinal purposes, doctors where using marijuana extracts in the early 1800’s. This changed with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. Marijuana was considered a narcotic and was subject to tax in order to import, buy, or sell. Abuse of marijuana dates to the early part of the 20th century. By 1931, the Bureau of Narcotics named its first head of the department, Harry Anslinger. He was instrumental in developing a negative perception of marijuana using scare tactics and propaganda. Because of the media’s influence, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed by congress in 1937 and later was declared unconstitutional. Before 1960, marijuana use in the US was limited. During the 1960’s there was an explosion of it use. Currently, marijuana use is estimated at 75.7% of the 20.1 million American ages 12 or older who use illicit drugs. In 2008, during the previous 12 months, 2.2 million people used marijuana. Over the past 3 decades marijuana use has seen a trend in use and perceived harmfulness. Use declined in the early 90’s, while perceived risk increased. Peers have a significant effect on whether an individual will use marijuana or not. Research shows that if an individual’s friends uses marijuana it is likely that individual will use also. Some sociologists believe marijuana use is symbolically a rite of passage for youth.

Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis &

Controversy Regarding Medical Marijuana

The controversy over legalizing marijuana for medical use is strong. Currently, the Supreme Court is overriding 10 states where medical marijuana is legal. They ruled 6-3 that anyone who has a prescription from a doctor to use marijuana can be arrested and prosecuted. One issue that has been argued around the use of medical marijuana is the stigma of its recreational use. Another issue opponent’s site as a reason not to legalize medical marijuana is the potential to lead to legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug.

Some of the benefits of medical marijuana is backed by evidence and includes: treatment of MS and spinal cord injuries, treatment for cancer patients to relieve nausea, treatment of glaucoma and chronic pain. In addition, the November 2002 report put out by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) sites the following conditions or symptoms would benefit from medical marijuana: anorexia, arthritis, cancer, chrohn’s disease, migraine, spasticity, wasting syndrome, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, cachexia, and HIV.

Equally, there are some possible harmful side effects of marijuana use that have been studied and include: effects on memory, visual processing, mood, the ability to filter out extraneous stimuli and attentiveness. In addition, it is said that smoking marijuana is worse than smoking tobacco causing more lung disease and damage. Most of the risks associated with the use of medical marijuana are related to the smoking of it and not the cannabinoids, which are the beneficial agent in marijuana. Mahmoud A. ElSohly, sited from says smoking is not a good delivery system because the dose cannot be controlled.

Although there is a pro and con side of the argument of legalization, both side of the issue really want the same thing and that is the alleviation of the drug problem in the United States. Both arguments have

gaping holes, which should signal that neither side has a workable solution. Opponents state punitive avenues to marijuana’s control work in spite of evidence that those put in jail for minor drug offences often come out of jail using harder drugs and more dangerous than before. Not to mention overcrowding and wasted federal funds in prisons. Advocates state legalizing the drug is the way to go but they overlook the likelihood that increased use would occur. In addition, it does not guarantee the end to illegal sale of the drug.

See the following link for various medical, legal, and administrative views on the pro’s and cons of legalizing medical marijuana. Should marijuana be a medical option?

Because marijuana is a Schedule I drug, it cannot be studied. Giving marijuana a Schedule II classification would mean it may have possible accepted medical uses. In 1992, the DEA overruled the judge’s order to make it a Schedule 2 drug. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that medical uses of marijuana have not scientific studies to support its effectiveness or its safety. However, experts from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stated that marijuana is “moderately well-suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting.”

Street Names for Cannabis

The U.S. Government has compiled a list of 647 street names for cannabis. Below is a list of a few of the street names for cannabis. See the following link for complete list: US Government List for Street Names of marijuana Marijuana, dope, pot, grass, weed, head, mary jane, doobie, bud, ganja, hashish, hash, bhang, skun, refer, reefe, herb, boom, blubbers, ganster, afghan, black rock, broccoli, Buddha grass, bush, draw, dry high, gage, giggleweed, hemp, jane, jive, joint, kiff, loco weed, mary, Mexican green, panama red, puff, resin, roach, sativa, shit, smoke, spliff, tea, texas tea, thai sticks, beasters, blues, bud, cheeba, chief, chron, chron-chron, chronic, collie, dank devil-grass, dodo, doja, dro, endo, exo, exotic, film, fire, flame, garbage, green, happy smoke, happy stick, herbals, hooch, hoot hoot, indica, indo, kaya, kill, kind, krypto, kryptonite, kush, left-handed cigarette, lob, magic clover, meds, medulla oblongata, mota, nugs, nuggets, Obama, official, piff, sensi, sensei, shrub, shrubbery, skank, stank, sticky, sticky icky, stuff, sweet leaf, sweet winn Dixie, that stuff, the lady, the skunky stuff, trees, wacky tobaccy, weearoony, 420, mull, rope, buskets, cones, yarndi, hydro,.

People affected by cannabis are“high”, “stoned”, “out of it”, “whacked”, “off their face”.

Cannabis Abuse on the Brain
THC causes a euphoric effect as it enters the brain. The part of the brain that is affected is the reward system much like other drugs. Relaxation, laughter, bright colors, as well as anxiety and panic can occur. When using marijuana, forming new memories is impaired. On large doses an individual may experience psychosis, which may include: loss of personal identity, delusions, and hallucinations. This occurs more often when taken orally. The link of long-lasting schizophrenia has been linked to vulnerable individuals. There are inconsistent findings of long-term effects on the brain. MRI images have shown alterations in chronic users; however the cognitive affects are not clear. Other evidence states chronic use can speed up age-related hippocampal neuron loss. Another study showed that 1 week after stopping marijuana use of long-term users, recall memory was still impaired. However 4 weeks drug free cognitive ability of recall returned to normal.

Physiological Effects

From Cannabis Abuse

Cannabinoid receptors in the brain control concentration, time, memory, thought, depth perception and coordination. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, binds to and activates these receptors interfering with normal functioning of them. Marijuana decreases the neuron activity in the hippocampus area of the brain, which is responsible for memory formation. This is why an individual using marijuana is said to have impaired short-term memory and compromised learning abilities. Specific receptor sites known as cannabinoid receptors are affected by THC. The cerebral cortex, which is responsible for touch, hearing, smell, sight and taste, is affected by marijuana by activating the cannabinoid receptors in that area. The effects of THC on these receptors can include problems with learning and memory, problem solving issues, distorted perceptions, coordination loss, thinking difficulty, heart rate increase, panic attacks, anxiety and paranoia. The effects of marijuana can last for about an hour or two, however the chemicals half-life is from 20 to 10 days having a residual affect. Long-term use can lead to addiction, chronic cough, bronchitis, increased risk in vulnerable people of schizophrenia, and increased risk of depression, amotivational syndrome and anxiety. Amotivational syndrome has some controversy linked to its truth. It suggests impaired desire or lack of motivation in individuals who use marijuana. It shows poor short-term memory, apathy, and difficulty in concentration and disinterest in pursuing goals. Whether this apathy is caused by the marijuana or if people with apathy tend to be the ones who use marijuana in the first place is still under discussion.

Health Risks of Cannabis Abuse
Health risks when smoking marijuana include many of the same risks associated with smoking tobacco. Smokers may be susceptible to emphysema, bronchitis, and bronchial asthma. Damage to lungs is increased with long-term use as well as reproductive system problems. Other risks include dry mouth, read eyes, impaired concentration, and impaired motor skills. Premature babies and low birth weights may be a result from marijuana during pregnancy. Some studies show a loss in fertility (temporarily) in men and women. Because of these findings it is suggested that using marijuana during adolescence may be harmful. In addition, an increase of 50% in heart rate with marijuana use. For those with poor blood supply to the heart it can cause chest pain. It has been found that marijuana contains many cancer-causing agents. In laboratory observations, lung tissue exposed long term to marijuana smoke showed changed that thought to be precancerous. Some evidence in rat studies have shown problems in certain memory/learning tasks later in life.

Signs and Symptoms of

Cannabis Abuse/Dependence

Many of the signs of cannabis abuse are related to the paraphernalia associated with its use. The presence of roaches, joints, roach clips, plastic baggies, leaves or seeds, rolling paper, pipes, eye drops, incense use, and storing devices are a few signs of use. In addition, the sweet odor on clothes, eating binges, excessive laughter, looking drunk, but no smell of alcohol, animated behavior, fatigue or drowsiness are some of the outward physical symptoms of marijuana use. Heavy marijuana smokers are subject to respiratory problems like daily coughing, phlegm productions, chest illnesses. It was found in one study that chronic smokers used extra sick days because of respiratory illnesses.


Hanson, Glen R., Venturelli, Peter J. & Fleckenstein, Annette, E. (2012). Drugs and society (11th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones& Bartlett Learning.














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