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Marijuana Marijuana is an illegal narcotic drug and is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. It is also known by its many slang names like pot, weed, Mary Jane, dope and chronic. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The THC causes a series of cellular reactions with protein in certain nerve cells that lead to the high the user experiences. Most of the marijuana used in the United States is brought in illegally from other countries. It is most commonly smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe or bong. Recently it has appeared in blunts, which are cigars with the tabacco taken out and the marijuana put in the leaves. It also is mixed in with foods or brewed as tea. There are many short-term effects of marijuana. It causes problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, loss of coordination, and increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks. Marijuana users often become so devoted to the drug and its effects that they lose interest in any useful or intellectual occupation. A person who smokes marijuana regularly may have some of the same respiratory problems as tabacco smokers. These regular users may have a daily cough and phlegm and more frequent chest colds. The amount of tar inhaled by marijuana smokers and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed are three to five times greater than among tobacco smokers. The symptoms and effects become more serious when marijuana is used daily over a long period of time. Long term use of marijuana produces changes in the brain similar to those seen after long term use of other major drugs of abuse, like cocaine and heroin. One of the greatest dangers of marijuana is that people who use it soon look for stronger drugs, and often become addicted to heroin. Greater impairment of attention, memory, and processing in the brain is likely due to an alteration of brain activity produced by marijuana. Since marijuana is a drug of abuse, babies born to mothers who used it during pregnancy were smaller than those whose mothers did not use it. Smaller babies are more likely to develop health problems. Also if a nursing mother is using marijuana they pass THC through their breast milk to the baby. This can impair the infant’s motor development. Marijuana has all the signs of an addictive drug. It causes compulsive, often uncontrollable craving, seeking, and use, even though



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