Just the Facts: Marijuana
What are the street names/slang terms?
Aunt Mary, Boom, Chronic (Marijuana alone or with crack), Dope, Gangster, Ganja, Grass, Hash, Herb, Kif, Mary Jane, Pot, Reefer, Sinsemilla, Skunk, Weed
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana, the most often used illegal drug in this country, is a product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most.
What does it look like?
Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).
How is it used?
Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette called a “joint”. Weed can be smoked in a water pipe, called a “bong”, or mixed into food or brewed as tea. It has also appeared in cigars called “blunts”.
What are its short-term effects?
Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with weed. A user may also experience dry mouth and throat.
What are its long-term effects?
Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.
Do you know the facts about marijuana? Here are some common myths.
MYTH: Marijuana is harmless.
FACT: Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug among youth today and is more potent than ever. Marijuana use can lead to a host of significant health, social, learning, and behavioral problems at a crucial time in a young person's development. Getting high also impairs judgment, which can lead to risky decision making on issues like sex, criminal activity, or riding with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, teens who use drugs are five times more likely to have sex than teens who do not use drugs. Getting high also contributes to general apathy, irresponsible behavior, and risky choices.
MYTH: You can't get addicted to marijuana.
FACT: Don’t be fooled by popular beliefs. Kids can get hooked on pot. Research shows that marijuana use can lead to addiction. Each year, more kids enter treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illegal drugs combined.
MYTH: There's not much parents can do to stop their kids from "experimenting" with marijuana.
FACT: Most parents are surprised to learn that they are the most powerful influence on their children when it comes to drugs. But, it's true, so this message needs to start with parents. Kids need to hear how risky marijuana use can be. They need to know how damaging it can be to their lives. And they need to begin by listening to someone they trust. By staying involved, knowing what their kids are doing, and setting limits with clear rules and consequences, parents can keep their kids drug-free.
MYTH: There are no long-term consequences to marijuana use.
FACT: Research shows that kids who smoke marijuana engage in risky behavior that can jeopardize their futures, like having sex, getting in trouble with the law, or losing scholarship money. Marijuana can also hurt academic achievement and puts kids at risk for depression and anxiety.
MYTH: Marijuana isn't as popular as other drugs like ecstasy among teens today.
FACT: Kids use marijuana far more than any other illegal drug. Among kids who use drugs, 60 percent use only marijuana.
MYTH: Young kids won't be exposed to marijuana.
FACT: While overall marijuana use has decreased, many children and teens are still using it. According to the annual Monitoring the Future national poll, in the past seven years, the number of eighth graders who had used marijuana decreased from approximately one in five to slightly more than one in 10. With recent research now linking marijuana use to mental health disorders like depression and schizophrenia, this is still far too many. The same report notes that, by 12th grade, marijuana use increases to more than two in five teens.
MYTH: Parents who experimented with marijuana in their youth would be hypocrites if they told their kids not to try it.
FACT: Parents need to make their own decisions about whether to talk to their children about their own drug use. But parents can tell their kids that much more is known today about the serious health and social consequences of using marijuana.
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