In This Article:

A Brief Overview of Marijuana

  • By: Andrew Easler, Esq.
  • Published: Sep, 27 2016
  • Updated: Dec, 20 2022

Marijuana is a Common Drug in the US

Though it has recently been legalized for medical use in some areas, marijuana is still an illegal drug in most of the United States. It is also one of the most commonly used recreational drugs in the country. To give you a more in-depth understanding of marijuana, in this overview, we will briefly cover the historical background, details (such as uses, etc.), street names, and potential side effects of marijuana use.

Background of the Substance

According to historical documents and other evidence, marijuana has been used for over 2000 years, with the earliest instances of use in China and India. It is believed that the first recorded references to marijuana or cannabis use were in the writings of Shen Nung, the Chinese emperor, in 2737 BCE.

Details – What Is Marijuana?

But what exactly is Marijuana? First, it is DEA Schedule I drug under the category of cannabinoids. And, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the term “marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.” When smoked or eaten, marijuana provides a high due to its THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) content.

Schedule I drugs include any substances or chemicals “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other examples of DEA Schedule I drugs, besides marijuana include, but are not limited to peyote, heroin, LSD, and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as ecstasy).

Though there has been a large movement to prove that cannabinoids do have valid medical uses, recent moves to get marijuana removed from the DEA’s list of Schedule I drugs have been unsuccessful.

Street Names for Marijuana

Of course, not everyone who uses or sells marijuana will refer to it by its proper name. Some of the most common street names for marijuana include, but are not limited to:

  • Dope
  • Ganja
  • Weed
  • Herb
  • Mary Jane
  • Pot
  • Green
  • Trees
  • Green trees
  • Skunk
  • Bud
  • Reefer

Because marijuana is often smoked, you may also hear other terms in reference to it, such as:

  • Joint – A marijuana cigarette
  • Blunt – A cigar or cigarillo rolled with a combination of marijuana and tobacco
  • Bong – A water pipe used for smoking marijuana
  • Pipe – A pipe (usually glass) made for smoking marijuana

Side Effects of Using Marijuana

Smoking marijuana is the fastest and most effective means to get THC into the bloodstream. Your blood will then carry the THC to your brain and other organs. Because your brain naturally produces chemicals like THC, it has receptors that will react to the presence of THC in your bloodstream, causing you to feel high.

Some short-term side effects of smoking marijuana include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in sense perception
  • Impaired memory and/or problem-solving skills
  • Increased hunger

Long-term side effects of using marijuana can include prolonged memory impairment and/or decreased intellectual capacity, especially if the user begins smoking in their teens before their brain has fully developed. Other long-term side effects include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Decreased life satisfaction
  • Poorer mental and/or physical health

What Does the High from Marijuana Feel Like?

Most users report a feeling of euphoria when smoking or eating marijuana. Some will have hallucinations, while others will simply have somewhat altered senses for a period lasting between a few minutes and a few hours. Users generally have slower reaction times to stimulus and will feel more relaxed and at peace when they are high.

While many people believe that recreational use of marijuana is harmless, you can see from this overview that it has a number of side effects. And, whether or not it has medical value, it is still a Schedule I substance and is, therefore, illegal in most of the US.

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The information on this page may have changed since we first published it. We give great legal advice, but this page (and the rest of our site) is for informational use only and is no substitute for actual legal advice. If you’d like to establish an attorney-client relationship, reach out to us and we’ll tell you how we can make it official. Sending us an email or reading this page alone doesn’t mean we represent you.

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