From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Cannabis

Cannabis sativa L.
Cannabis indica Lam.
Cannabis ruderalis Janisch.

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants which produces marijuana. There are three species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

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 euphoric (very good) or sleepy. The plant is also used to make hemp fibre, and for its seeds and seed oil.

In its natural environment, THC's purpose was to protect itself against being eaten. There are many varieties of marijuana,[1] and those low on THC production are selected for producing hemp and seeds.

Marijuana is an illegal drug in many countries. However, some countries have made marijuana legal. Other countries allow cannabis to be used as medicine when people have certain medical conditions.

Ancient history[change | change source]

Scientists believe that cannabis first grew somewhere in the Himalayas.[2] Evidence of people smoking marijuana goes as far back as prehistory: archaeologists have found burnt hemp seeds at a burial site in what is now Romania.[3] The most famous users of cannabis were the ancient Hindus, who called it ganjika in Sanskrit (ganja in modern Indian languages).[4] According to legend, the Indian god Shiva told his followers to worship the plant. The ancient drug soma was sometimes associated with cannabis.

People in the Persian Empire (what is now Iran) would light giant campfires made of marijuana, exposing themselves and other neighbors to the smoke. The ceremony was known as "the booz-rooz."[5]

Marijuana was also known in ancient Greece, where magicians would burn its flowers in order to cause strange thoughts in the audience members' minds. Historians think that the cult of Dionysus also began in ancient Greece and involved inhaling marijuana smoke.[4]

Effects[change | change source]

When a person breathes in the marijuana smoke or eats marijuana, he or she may get a feeling called "getting high" or "getting stoned". Marijuana's most common effects include feeling happy, relaxed, tired, silly or scared; having many ideas about what to do; not being able to think clearly (or remember some things at all); and getting hungry (also called 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).

Hashish (dried resin) is much more concentrated than marijuana (it includes both leaves and flowers). Because of this, people who take large amounts of hashish may feel even stronger effects. They may also see things or hear things that do not exist (these are called hallucinations). They may also have strange thoughts. Some hashish users like the feeling of these visions and thoughts, while others may find them scary. However, people rarely get hallucinations after smoking or eating cannabis.

Legal status[change | change source]

Personal use[change | change source]

On December 11, 2013, Uruguay was the first country in the world to make it legal to grow, sell, and use cannabis.[6] Other countries that allow people to have small amounts of marijuana (just enough for them to use personally) include Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.[7] In the United States, on January 1, 2014, the states of Washington and Colorado made it legal for people aged 21 or older to buy cannabis.[8]

Medical marijuana[change | change source]

As of 2016, many different countries and some states in the United States have made it legal for people with certain medical problems to use marijuana as a medicine. Medical use of cannabis is legal in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Israel, the Netherlands, and Spain.

In the United States, as of June 2016, 25 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Guam, had legalized medical marijuana. However, using marijuana for any reason is still illegal under federal law.[9]

According to a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine, marijuana (especially THC) can decrease pain; control nausea and vomiting; and improve appetite.[10] As of June 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "Further studies have found that marijuana [helps] some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis.[9]

Dangers of cannabis[change | change source]

A "joint"

Marijuana is one of the least dangerous of the commonly used illegal drugs. It is almost impossible to overdose on cannabis. A person would have to smoke their entire body weight in five minutes in order to overdose.[11][12][13]

As of 1995, scientists had not shown that smoking marijuana causes lung cancer, even in people who smoke a lot of marijuana for a long time.[14][15]

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 (scientists call this "amotivational syndrome"). However, many reports show that people who use marijuana do just as well as non-users.[16][17]

Driving while "stoned"[change | change source]

A person who is intoxicated ("high" or "stoned") from marijuana could get hurt or killed in an accident if they drive a car. It is not safe to drive under the influence of any intoxicant. However, drivers who are "stoned" are much less likely to get into car accidents than drunk drivers.[18]

Addiction[change | change source]

"Hard drugs", such as heroin, meth, and cocaine, are chemically addictive. This means that if a person starts taking heroin, meth, or cocaine, that person's body will physically need to keep taking the drug. If they try to stop using the drug, they may become very sick. Marijuana and hashish are not chemically addictive, but they can be psychologically or habitually addictive. This means that people can get so used to the pleasure marijuana causes that they feel as if they need the drug. 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 other drugs, people can still become very much addicted to the pleasure of marijuana.[19]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Small E 1975. American law and the species problem in Cannabis: science and semantics. Bulletin on narcotics 27 (3): 1–20.
  2. Marijuana and the Cannabinoids", ElSohly(p.8)
  3. Rudgley, Richard (1998). Lost civilisations of the Stone Age. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-85580-1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Miller, Ga (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 34 (11th ed.). 761–762. doi:10.1126/science.34.883.761
  5. Ibn Taymiyya (2001). Le haschich et l'extase. Beyrouth: Albouraq. ISBN 2841-61174-4
  6. "Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana trade". Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  7. Brant, Emma (October 30, 2014). "Where in the world can you legally smoke cannabis?". BBC. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "State Medical Marijuana Laws". National Conference of State Legislatures. June 8, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  10. Joy, Janet E.; Watson, Jr., Stanley J.; & Benson, Jr., John A. (1999). Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. The National Academies Press. ISBN 978-0-309-07155-0. 
  11. "Health Education | Marijuana". Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  12. "Medical Marijuana Keystone Document". Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  13. "How Marijuana Can Kill You: Why a Cannabis Overdose is Impossible". Retrieved 2009-03-29. 
  14. Turner, Carlton E. The Marijuana Controversy. Rockville: American Council for Drug Education, 1981.
  15. "Deglamorising cannabis". The Lancet 346. November 1995. 
  16. Himmelstein, J.L. (1983). The Strange Career of Marihuana: Politics and Ideology of Drug Control in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313235171. 
  17. 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.
  18. Moskowitz, Herbert; Robert Petersen (1982). "Marijuana and Driving: A Review". American Council for Drug Education. 
  19. "'Compass Of Pleasure': Why Some Things Feel So Good". Retrieved 2011-10-27.