Cannabis (pronounced IPA: ['kan.nə.bıs]) (also called Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or marijuana) is a plant. The cannabis plant's flowers contain a chemical or drug known as THC (short for tetra-hydro-cannabinol). Smoking or eating the flower can make a person feel good (euphoria) or have creative ideas. Marijuana is treated as an illegal drug in many countries, but some countries allow it to be used as medicine when people have certain medical conditions.
Ancient history[change | edit source]
Scientists believe that marijuana first grew somewhere in the Himalayas. Evidence of smoking of marijuana goes as far back as prehistory, where burnt hemp seeds were found at a burial site in present day Romania. The most famous users of cannabis were the ancient Hindus, who called it ganjika in Sanskrit (ganja in modern Indian languages). According to legend, the Indian god, Shiva, told his followers to worship the plant. The ancient drug soma was sometimes associated with marijuana. People in the Persian Empire (what is now Iran) would light giant campfires made of marijuana, exposing themselves and their neighbors to the smoke. The ceremony was known as the booz-rooz.
Marijuana was also known in ancient Greece, where magicians would burn its flowers in order to cause people strange thoughts. The cult of Dionysus, which is believed to have begun in ancient Greece, is also believed to have involved inhaling marijuana smoke.
Effects[change | edit source]
When a person breathes in the marijuana smoke or eats it, he or she may get a feeling called "getting high" or "getting stoned". The most common effects of the drug include feeling happy, relaxed, tired, silly or scared, having many ideas what to do or not being able to think clearly (or remember some things at all), and getting hungry (otherwise known as getting 'the munchies'.) Smoking marijuana changes how people think and feel, making it either harder or easier to solve some problems. Some people who take marijuana feel strange or paranoid (worried that something bad is going to happen).
When people smoke or eat cannabis, they often get hungry because cannabis increases a person's appetite for food. The slang term for this effect is "the munchies." Since hashish (dried resin) is much more concentrated than marijuana (includes leaves and flowers), people who take large amounts of hashish may feel even stronger effects. They may also hear strange sounds, or have visions or thoughts called hallucinations. Some hashish users like the feeling of these visions and thoughts, while others may find them scary; however, hallucinations after smoking or eating cannabis are rare.
Hazards of cannabis[change | edit source]
Marijuana is one of the least dangerous of the illegal drugs that are commonly used. It is almost impossible to overdose on cannabis; you have to smoke your entire body weight in five minutes time for an overdose to occur (which can never happen in real life).
A person who is intoxicated ("high" or "stoned") from marijuana could get hurt or killed in an accident when they drive a car. While the responsible choice is not to drive under the influence of any intoxicant, the chances of getting into an accident while "stoned" are much lower than while "drunk".
"Hard drugs", such as heroin, meth and cocaine are chemically addictive. This means that if a person starts taking heroin, crack, or cocaine, that persons body will physically need to keep taking the drug, to stop use may cause them to become sick. Marijuana and hashish is not chemically addictive, but as with any thing else, it can be psychologically or habitually addictive, meaning that people can get so used to the pleasure that they feel as if they need it. Unlike with alcohol, tobacco, and hard drugs, most people who use marijuana can stop taking it when they want, while experiencing only minor withdrawal symptoms. However, while marijuana may not be as addictive as hard drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, people can still become very much addicted to the pleasure of marijuana.
It is a common belief that people who use marijuana are less interested in life and may not want to go to school or work ("amotivational syndrome"). However, many reports show that people who use marijuana do just as well as or even better than people who do not.
References[change | edit source]
- Marijuana and the Cannabinoids", ElSohly(p.8)
- Rudgley, Richard (1998). Lost Civilisations of the Stone Age. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-85580-1.
- Miller, Ga (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 34 (11th ed.). 761–762. doi:10.1126/science.34.883.761
- Ibn Taymiyya (2001). Le haschich et l'extase. Beyrouth: Albouraq. ISBN 2841-61174-4
- "Health Education | Marijuana". http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/atod/marijuana.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- "Medical Marijuana Keystone Document". http://www.fcda.org/judge.young.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- "How Marijuana Can Kill You: Why a Cannabis Overdose is Impossible". http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/827177/how_marijuana_can_kill_you_why_a_cannabis.html. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Moskowitz, Herbert; Robert Petersen (1982). "Marijuana and Driving: A Review". American Council for Drug Education.
- Turner, Carlton E. The Marijuana Controversy. Rockville: American Council for Drug Education, 1981.
- "Deglamorising cannabis". The Lancet 346. November 1995.
- "'Compass Of Pleasure': Why Some Things Feel So Good". http://www.npr.org/2011/06/23/137348338/compass-of-pleasure-why-some-things-feel-so-good. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- Himmelstein, J.L. (1983). The Strange Career of Marihuana: Politics and Ideology of Drug Control in America.. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313235171.
- Pope, H.G. et al., “Drug Use and Life Style Among College Undergraduates in 1989: A Comparison With 1969 and 1978,” American Journal of Psychiatry 147 (1990): 998-1001.