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Marijuana Research Reports

Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant, which grows in many countries, including the United States. People put it in rolling papers to make marijuana cigarettes, smoke it in bongs or pipes, or mix it in baked goods or tea and eat or drink it. The cannabis plant also yields hashish, a stronger form of marijuana, and hash oil, the strongest form that has very high levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Marijuana contains chemicals that act on the marijuana receptor in the brain. Scientists have recently identified the natural chemical, anandamide, designed to fit the marijuana receptor. While scientists do not know all of the drug's effects, several studies have established that marijuana interferes with memory and learning. A new study confirms that heavy (daily) marijuana use impairs critical skills related to attention, memory and learning. In this study, "Heavy users could not pay attention to the material well enough to register the information in the first place so that it could be recalled and repeated later," say the researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2/21/96).

These deficits persisted up to 24 hours after users stopped feeling high. Marijuana also impairs judgment and reaction time. Road tests for marijuana intoxication are not routinely done, but a special study in Memphis, Tennessee, showed that one-third of drivers stopped for reckless driving were high on marijuana. Another study revealed that of drivers involved in accidents who were treated at a trauma center, 15 percent had been smoking marijuana. Daily use of from 1 to 3 marijuana cigarettes appears to produce the same lung damage and cancer risk as smoking 5 times as many cigarettes. Finally, researchers have found for the first time that marijuana can cause withdrawal symptoms in laboratory animals, and that marijuana acts on the brain and nervous system as do other addictive drugs.

Common Street Names
Pot, weed, herb, green, Mary Jane, MJ, joints, bong toke, reefer, blunt (cigar filled with marijuana).

Legal Status
Marijuana is a Schedule I drug in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. It is illegal to grow, sell, buy or use marijuana, hashish or hashish oil. Synthetic THC capsules have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective to treat the nausea that cancer patients sometimes suffer with some forms of chemotherapy, and to treat wasting in AIDS patients. Therefore, THC is in Schedule II because it has accepted use in medicine. No form of the smoked drug has been approved as safe or effective for any medical use.


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