of the valley
from the plant this secretion is normally dried and then compressed into
a variety of forms, normally balls or cakes. It has different names in
around the world but is actually the same old hashish.
Marijuana is a green
or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of cannabis, usually
smoked as a cigarette (called a "joint" or a "nail") or in a pipe or bong.
In recent years, marijuana has appeared in blunts (cigars emptied of tobacco
and refilled with marijuana) of ten in combination with another drug, such
as crack. A less popular way of use is to add marijuana to food or to brew
The plant contains
the alkaloids cannabinol, cannabidiol, etc. but the chief active ingredient
is called delta-9-Tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC). It has been discovered that
the membranes of certain nerve cells contain receptors that bind THC. This
interaction induces a series of cellular reactions responsible for the
hallucinogenic effect of the substance. Although there is much variation
of the content, a cigarette usually contains about 1g of marijuana, or
20 mg THC. About 300 mg of the drug is equivalent to 70 g of alcohol. THC
is absorbed rapidly by the nasal or oral routes, producing a peak of subjective
effect at 10 minutes and 1 hr, respectively.
|There are over 200 slang
terms for marijuana including pot, herb, grass, weed,
Jane, boom, etc.
manifestation of intoxication: short-term effects
In addiction to
the “desired” effect of elation and euphoria, marijuana may impair short-term
memory; hinder the performance of tasks requiring divided attenion (e.g.
those involved in driving); cause a loss of critical judgement; and distort
the perception of time, sight, sound, and touch. Visual hallucinations
and perceived body distortions occur rarely, but there may be “flashbacks”
or frightening hallucinations, experienced under the influence of marijuana,
that usually occur during stress or with fever. Body temperature may decrease.
Increased heart rate is apparent within 20 minutes of marijuana smoking
and is followed half an hour later by transient high blood pressure which
disappears by the third hour. Loss of coordination and anxiety are also
common toxic effects. Somnolence predominates in the late phase of intoxication.
effects of marijuana use
The use of marijuana among teens
is now rapidly escalating in the most industrialized nations. It is well
known that there are many adults who “enjoy” a smoke once or twice a week
without any major health consequences. It is the minority of heavy users
who have lost control and whose physical and mental health is seriously
Increased risk of cancer
Respiratory problems: coughing
Increased risk of heart attack
Weakening of the immune system
Problems with learning, attention,
Emotional and behavioral problems
Addiction in predisposed individuals,
more often among teens
Adverse effects on pregnancy
Social problems among teenagers
"minor" is this minority, though?
According to recent statistics
National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA),
there were an estimated 2.1 million Americans who started using marijuana
in 1998; more than 72.0 million Americans (1/3 of the US population) 12
years and older have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes and
more than 120,000 people undergoing treatment. In 1999, the•Center
on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)
pointed out that 88,000 teens had been admitted for treatment for marijuana,
more than those treated for any other drug or alcohol. In Minneapolis/
St. Paul half of the admitted were under 18. Other scientists believe that
there were many more teenage users needing treatment than what was previously
Data provided by the NIDA
also showed that between 1991 and 1999 the percentage of 8th- and 10th-
graders who have used marijuana had increased twice. The Emergency Department
mentions of marijuana use increase in many US states with the highest percent
increase among the 12- to 17-year-olds. Juvenile arrests testing positive
for marijuana ranged from a low of 40% to 63% in US.
Medicinal uses of cannabis
date from thousands of years and both crude smoke and the psychoactive
component, 9-Tetrahydro-cannabinol (9-THC) have been used to treat migraine
headache, glaucoma, nausea, and anorexia.
|According to Herodotus (c.a.484-425)
hashish was known to the Scythinans, who used it as an anaesthetic and
to suppress their grief when someone had died.
Arabians sentenced to death
were given hashish before the execution.
In India, until the end of the
last century, they burned widows together with their late husbands. Usually,
they had been intoxicated with hashish before they went to the stake.
Tribes in Central Africa (somewhere
near the river Congo) the smoking of hashish was made a cult.
Hashish became a national disaster
in Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria.
The famous Italian traveler
Marc O’Polo (1254-1324) told about a sheikh called “the old man from the
mountain” who had a wonderful garden full of flowers, arbors, and beautiful
dancing girls in a valley surrounded by high cliffs. He used to invite
there the best warriors of his army. The guests were given hashish to drink
and then they went outside the palace into the gardens. After that they
were ready to do anything for their sheikh.
Hashish was brought to Europe
by Italian mariners and was officially introduced as an anaesthetic for
amputations of limbs in 1553 by a French court physician. In the middle
of the last century, hashish became extremely popular. One could drink
it, or chew it, or smoke it.
are medicines based on pharmaceutical THC (such as Marinol), which are
mostly used for the treatment of illnesses associated with wasting (such
as AIDS and anorexia) and emesis associated with chemotherapy in cancer
patients. There are also many fields under research related to other possible
medical applications of THC, for example its anti-inflammatory effect.
Most of these studies, however, are in their preliminary stages and need
to be confirmed and extended to profound clinical studies.
For the time being, there
are many opponents of the opinion that marijuana was harmful. Many campaigners
and pressure groups accuse medical officials of conducting unscientific,
politically oriented anti-dope propaganda. There is plenty of information
on the Internet, on television, and in tabloid newspapers regarding the
safety of marijuana or at least its harmlessness compared to tobacco and
alcohol. However, the most reliable health institutions and world famous
organizations such as the•World
Health Organization (WHO)
US National Institute of Drug Abuse have not changed their
position regarding the use of marijuana. Most doctors agree with their
concept. How about you?