Street names include: pot, weed, reefer, grass, ganja, chronic, hash, dope, skunk, and many more
Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused illegal drug in the United States. It is produced using the dried components of the hemp or cannabis plant. This plant contains THC, the powerful substance that causes marijuana’s mind-altering effects. Marijuana in the United States is most often grown in illegal grow houses that require very hot and humid temperatures for the plants to grow at their full potential. There have been many reports of devastating fires as a result of illegal grow houses.
Marijuana is most often smoked, much like a cigarette. However it can also be consumed orally in the form of a “brownie” or “cookie.” Marijuana can also produce “hash oil” which can be smoked in a vapor pen or dabber – a recent and troubling evolution in the use of the drug.
The effects of marijuana, while far less extreme than more potent narcotics, are still problematic. Heart rate and blood pressure can increase significantly. Other effects can include dry mouth and an insatiable appetite – commonly referred to as “the munchies.” Much like alcohol, marijuana can cause serious psychological impairment including slower reaction times, paranoid behavior, memory loss and more. This can cause devastating traffic and work related accidents.
The idea that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine is a topic if significant debate. Contrary to what many believe, the drug is addictive and NIDA reports that about 9 percent of all users become addicted to the drug.
Treatment for Marijuana Abuse
Since marijuana is not as addictive as other drugs and because withdrawal symptoms are generally milder than hard drugs such as narcotics, there are few vocal advocates for treatment. However, those that are addicted to the substance and those that put their lives and the lives of others at risk by consuming marijuana would be best served by completing a treatment regimen.
Much like other drugs, there may be significant psychological issues that caused the marijuana use in the first place. The patient will benefit from therapy to identify and overcome those underlying problems.
Marijuana has, for a long time, been the most abused drug in the United States. Currently, legal medicinal use is approved in 21 states. There is little debate that many people without qualifying medical issues have been able to obtain marijuana “legally.” Most recently two states, Washington and Colorado have approved the recreational use of marijuana. While the drug remains illegal on a federal level, anecdotal evidence points to a sharp increase in use in recent years. It is often the first step in users becoming engaged with a variety of other illegal activities. We expect that use and abuse will increase over time as more states approve marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use.