Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant. It is sometimes used for medical purposes but other times its used for “fun”. Cannabis can be used in different ways: vaping, smoking, or even within food, providing many physical and mental effects on the body through its use. It is very popular in today’s age; in 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used cannabis. That is 2.7% to 4.9% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65. It is the most common illegally used drug in the world and the United States. The countries with the highest use of this product are Zambia, United States, Canada, and Nigeria. In 2016 alone, 51% of people have ever used cannabis in the United States. However, despite all of these statistics, just because marijuana is commonly used within a particular society does not deem it to be safe.  

There are many mental and physical symptoms that occur when marijuana is used. Symptoms are generally felt within minutes, if smoked, and 30 to 60 minutes when cooked. The symptoms last from two-six hours after their initial use. Marijuana (cannabis) creates “high” feeling within its consumers. Users experience a heightened mood, increase of appetite, difficulty with thinking, problem solving, and altered senses. Consumers also experience pseudohallucination, ataxia, depersonalization, and derealization, all of which alter the state of the mind. Some other symptoms include a decrease in short term memory, dry mouth, impaired movement, red eyes, and feeling of anxiety. Some long term effects include addiction, decreased mental ability, behavioral problems for the mothers that used cannabis during pregnancy, increased heart rate, breathing deficiency and intense nausea and vomiting .

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One of the main psychoactive parts of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) , one of the 483 compounds of the plant, which release a rush of pleasure felt substances such as dopamine. “All of the drugs, whether legal or illegal, that can cause addiction apparently can stimulate dopamine signaling in the main pleasure center of the brain.… By stimulating dopamine, they activate the main reward centers of the brain. This is why when someone takes a drug, it is pleasurable,” said Dr. Nora Volkow. A study done in 2013 concluded that 6,600 people in the United States become marijuana users every day, and THC is one of the major drivers of this addiction. Some other sources of cannabis include cannabis sativa, forma indica, and cannabis ruderalis.

Unlike opiate misuse, marijuana misuse can take some time to develop. But the question is, why do people even start? Well, there are many different motivators to drug addiction. Some say that it feels good, lifts off a depression that is igniting within themselves, peer pressure and  something to do when bored. However, it is important to note that once addicted, it can become very difficult to quit. Research suggests that between 9 and 30 percent of those who use marijuana may develop some degree of marijuana disorder, especially consumers under the age of 18. Many people who try quitting feel grouchiness, sleeplessness, anxiety and cravings. Therefore, making it harder for them to quit. For these reasons we should always stay around good friend groups, notify adults for help if we feel the compulsion to do so, and take the time to pursue different hobbies so that we do not get trapped into a world of misery.

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