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What You Need to Know About Drugs: Marijuana

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What It Is: Marijuana (say: mare-uh-WAH-nuh) is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is made from the shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp (Cannabis sativa) plant. It looks like green, brown, or gray dried parsley.

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug and is considered a hallucinogen if taken in large amounts.

Sometimes Called: weed, grass, pot, chronic, joint, blunt, herb, cannabis, hashish, Mary Jane
How It's Used: Marijuana is smoked in the form of a hand-rolled cigarette (called a joint or a nail), in a pipe, or water pipe (also known as a bong); it is sometimes smoked after being placed inside of hollowed-out cigars called blunts; mixed into foods; or brewed as a tea.

What It Does to You:

Marijuana makes it hard to keep track of time and concentrate. People who use it have difficulty with memory and find it hard to solve problems and learn.

Marijuana raises your heart rate and blood pressure. Some people get red eyes or dry mouths or become sleepy or very hungry. The drug can also make some people paranoid (feeling like someone is out to hurt them or is plotting against them). It can also sometimes cause hallucinations.

Marijuana is as tough on your lungs as cigarettes — steady users suffer coughs, wheezing, frequent colds, and respiratory (airway and lung) infections, like bronchitis.

Sometimes blunts are filled with drugs like PCP (also called angel dust) or crack cocaine in addition to marijuana and can be very dangerous when smoked.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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