Marijuana, derived from the cannabis plant, refers to any number of preparations of the plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug. Marijuana can also be intended for medicinal purposes, although this is only allowed in certain locations in which the drug in legal. Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. The psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (known as THC). Cannabis has both psychoactive and physiological short-term effects, including alteration in perception and mood, increased heart rate, lowered blood pressure, impairment in short-term memory, and concentration. However, the long-term effects of marijuana usage are less clear. Marijuana is consumed in a variety of ways.
The most common way is through inhalation. Users typically inhale (or smoke) marijuana from small pipes, bongs (with water chamber), paper-wrapped joints, or tobacco-leaf-wrapped blunts. Fresh, non-dried cannabis can be consumed orally. Many users that consume cannabis orally, rather than through inhalation, typically use it in baking (e.g., brownies, etc.) or in a liquid, such as tea. Marijuana has a variety of effects on a person’s health. Marijuana increases heart rate by 20-100 percent shortly after smoking and can last for up to 3 hours. It is estimated that individuals who smoke marijuana have almost a 5-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after using the drug. Marijuana also poses problems for the user’s lungs, similar to those who smoke tobacco. Research has found that individuals who use marijuana demonstrate problems in daily life. However, studies have concluded that this only holds true for about 10% of recreational users who do not develop other mechanisms for solving their problems and rely on marijuana instead. More people tend to use the drug recreationally for relaxation and social purposes.