Marijuana is green mixture of leaves, seeds, and stems of the natural hemp plant Cannabis Sativa. The way in which marijuana is consumed has many different combinations. It can be smoked out of a paper product, smoked out of certain paraphernalia (i.e. Bongs, pipes, steam-rollers), brewed as tea, and even eaten. The marijuana that is used to get a "high" feeling is the female version of the Cannabis plant. The substance that leaves the user with a euphoric feeling is is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC
When marijuana is smoked the effects of the drug last approximately 1 to 3 hours. Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual's heart begins beating more rapidly, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. The heart rate, normally 70 to 80 beats per minute, may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute. As THC enters the brain, it causes a user to feel "high" by acting in the brain's reward system, areas of the brain that respond to stimuli such as food and drink as well as most drugs of abuse. THC activates the reward system in the same way that nearly all drugs of abuse do, by stimulating brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. A marijuana user may experience pleasant sensations, colors and sounds may seem more intense, and time appears to pass very slowly. The user's mouth feels dry, and he or she may suddenly become very hungry and thirsty. His or her hands may tremble and grow cold. The euphoria passes after awhile, and then the user may feel sleepy or depressed. Occasionally, marijuana use produces anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic.
More than 94 million Americans (40 percent) age 12 and older have tried marijuana at least once, according to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In 2004, 16 percent of 8th-graders reported that they had tried marijuana, and 6 percent were current users (defined as having used the drug in the 30 days preceding the survey). Among 10th-graders, 35 percent had tried marijuana sometime in their lives, and 16 percent were current users. As would be expected, rates of use among 12th-graders were higher still. Forty-six percent had tried marijuana at some time, and 20 percent were current users. In 2002, the National Institute of Justice's Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program, which collects data on the number of adult arrestees testing positive for various drugs, found that, on average, 41 percent of adult male arrestees and 27 percent of adult female arrestees tested positive for marijuana. On average, 57 percent of juvenile male and 32 percent of juvenile female arrestees tested positive for marijuana.
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