What Is Marijuana?
Now that marijuana has been legalized to some degree in no less than 22 states (with another state–New York–set to join their ranks), it might be worth revisiting what marijuana is exactly, and what it does (or is supposed to do). Interestingly enough in this advanced day and age, many people still remain clueless as to those aspects, which is why shedding a little light on the subject might be helpful.
Marijuana is the name of various products and preparations derived from the cannabis plant, which may be Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica, and even parts of the plant itself. The products derived from the plant are used both for their medicinal effects and their psychoactive properties.
Active ingredients of marijuana
The primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis has been identified as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, it is only one of 483 compounds that have been identified in marijuana. Of this number, there are also more than 84 identified cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), and cannabigerol (CBG).
The use of cannabis is most often associated with the resulting psychoactive and physiological effects. Some of the most common effects of marijuana are euphoria, heightened mood, intensified sensation, feelings of relaxation, and an increase in appetite. It can also cause a number of unwanted effects including dryness in the mouth, red eyes, and impaired memory and motor skills. In some people, marijuana use can also result in anxiety and paranoia.
Uses of marijuana
Marijuana is commonly used for recreational purposes or for medicine. It may also be used for religious purposes or spiritual rites. Its use actually has along history, with the earliest recorded mentions dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. Marijuana use remained largely free from social stigma and was unregulated since then, until it was regulated in several countries beginning in the early part of the 20th century. It was then that cannabis was placed under legal restrictions with regard to its possession, use, and sale.
Legality of marijuana
Today, marijuana and all other cannabis preparations containing the ingredients that have been identified as psychoactive are illegal in the majority of countries around the world. The UN has pronounced marijuana the most commonly used illegal drug in the world, with 2004 estimates placing the number of adult users around the world at approximately 162 million. Of this number, the UN also estimated that 22.5 million used cannabis every day.
Beginning in the 1990s, the medical benefits of marijuana have been increasingly publicized and investigated. Although reports of the ill-effects of cannabis are still prevalent, the plant and its various products and preparations have been used for the treatment of numerous health conditions and symptoms. The FDA has even approved two products that contain THC as the primary active ingredient.
Marijuana has been shown to be especially beneficial for patients suffering from chronic and terminal diseases including AIDS and certain forms of cancer. Despite growing support for legalization, the medicinal value of marijuana remains in dispute throughout most of the world.