The popular notion seems to be that marijuana is a harmless pleasure, access to which should not be regulated or considered illegal. Currently, marijuana is the most commonly used “illicit” drug in the United States, with about 12% of people 12 years of age or older reporting use in the past year and particularly high rates of use among young people.The most common route of administration is inhalation. The greenish-gray shredded leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa plant are smoked (along with stems and seeds) in cigarettes, cigars, pipes, water pipes, or “blunts” (marijuana rolled in the tobacco-leaf wrapper from a cigar). Hashish is a related product created from the resin of marijuana flowers and is usually smoked (by itself or in a mixture with tobacco) but can be ingested orally. Marijuana can also be used to brew tea, and its oil-based extract can be mixed into food products.
Adverse Effects of Short-Term Use and Long-Term or Heavy Use of Marijuana.
|Effects of short-term use|
|Impaired short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and to retain information|
|Impaired motor coordination, interfering with driving skills and increasing the risk of injuries|
|Altered judgment, increasing the risk of sexual behaviors that facilitate the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases|
|In high doses, paranoia and psychosis|
|Effects of long-term or heavy use|
|Addiction (in about 9% of users overall, 17% of those who begin use in adolescence, and 25 to 50% of those who are daily users)|
|Altered brain development|
|Poor educational outcome, with increased likelihood of dropping out of school|
|Cognitive impairment, with lower IQ among those who were frequent users during adolescence|
|Diminished life satisfaction and achievement (determined on the basis of subjective and objective measures as compared with such ratings in the general population)|
|Symptoms of chronic bronchitis|
|Increased risk of chronic psychosis disorders (including schizophrenia) in persons with a predisposition to such disorders|