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Basic Facts About Marijuana

One Third of Americans Have Tried Pot


Updated May 28, 2014

Marijuana fast facts
Steve Cicero Collection/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. There are over 200 slang terms for marijuana.

Street Names

Pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, boom, ganja, hash, Mary Jane, cannabis, bubble gum, northern lights, fruity juice, gangster, afghani #1, skunk and chronic.

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug which ranks as the most popular illegal drug used in the U.S. It is a mix of dried flowers, leaves and stems from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The main active ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta 9 tetrhydrocannabinol).

What Does Marijuana Look Like?

Marijuana looks like a mixture of dried leaves, sticks and flowers. It can range in color from green to brown.

How Is It Taken?

The most common way to take Marijuana is to smoke it. Users will roll it into a cigarette "joint," put into an emptied cigar casing "blunts" and smoke it in a pipe or a water-pipe "bong." It can also be baked into food and eaten or mixed in tea.

Who Uses Marijuana?

It is the most common illegal drug used in the U.S. At least one-third of Americans have used marijuana sometime in their lives.

What Are the Effects of Marijuana?

People smoke marijuana because it elevates their mood and relaxes them. Depending on the level of THC, users may also experience euphoria, hallucinations and paranoia.

What are the Hazards of Using Marijuana?

Some of the common discomforts found when using marijuana include dry mouth, swollen eyelids, bloodshot eyes, loss of coordination and an accelerated heart rate.

Short-term Hazards include:

  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Impaired memory
  • Difficulty in thinking
  • Learning difficulties
  • Lack of attention and focus
  • Poor driving skills

Long-Term Hazards Include:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Heightened risk of infections, especially the lungs
  • Poor short-term recall
  • Inability to shift attention normally
  • Inability to understand complex information
  • An increased risk of developing lung, head and neck cancers
  • Lack of motivation
  • Decreased sperm count in men
  • Irregular menstruation in women
See more health effects of marijuana

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction for some people. Drug craving and withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana smokers to stop abusing the drug. People trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, and anxiety. They also display increased aggression.

Treating Marijuana Problems

There is no medication to directly treat marijuana abuse. Most abusers seeking professional treatment receive behavioral treatment in either group or individual sessions or both.

Has smoking weed become a problem for you?
Take the Marijuana Screening Quiz

National Institude on Drug Abuse
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information

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