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What is it?
Marijuana, the most often used illegal drug in this country, is a product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most.

What does it look like?
Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).

What are the street names/slang terms for it?
Weed, pot, reefer, grass, dope ganja, Mary Jane, sinsemilla, hash, herb, Aunt Mary, skunk, boom, kif, gangster, chronic.

How is it used?
Most users roll loose marijuana into a cigarette called a "joint". It can be smoked in a water pipe, called a "bong", or mixed into food or brewed as tea. It has also appeared in cigars called "blunts".

What are its short-term effects?
Short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and lea rning, distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch), trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety. These effects are even greater when other drugs are mixed with marijuana. A user may also experience dry mouth and throat.

What are its long-term effects?
Cancer-It is hard to find out whether marijuana alone causes cancer because many people who smoke marijuana also smoke cigarettes and/or use other drugs. Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. Studies have also shown a relationship between heavy marijuana use and a higher probability for head and neck cancer. Reproductive System-Heavy marijuana use can affect hormones in both males and females, so it can affect sexual characteristics and reproductive function.

Heavy doses of the drug may delay the onset of puberty in young men. Marijuana also can have adverse affects on sperm production. Among women, regular marijuana can disrupt the normal monthly menstrual cycle and inhibit ovulation (the regular discharge of eggs from the ovaries). Respiratory System-Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers. They have symptoms of daily cough and phlegm (chronic bronchitis) and more frequent chest colds. Continuing marijuana smoking can lead to abnormal functions of the lungs and airways. Scientists have found signs of lung tissue injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke.

Dependence/Tolerance-Long-term users of cannabis may develop psychological dependence and require more of the drug to get the same effect. A long-term user may need increasingly larger doses of a drug to get the same desired affects previously obtained from rk. Scientists are still studying these problems.

What is its federal classification?
Marijuana is a Schedule I drug classified under the heading of Cannabis.

What are some signs and symptoms of use?
If someone is high on marijuana, he or she may seem dizzy and have trouble walking. Eyes may appear very red and bloodshot and he/she may have a hard time remembering things that just happened. When the early effects fade, over a few hours, the user can become sleepy. After some time, you may notice withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends. In addition, changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use. In addition parents should also be aware of traces of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia odor on clothes and in the bedroom, use of incense and other deodorizes, use of eye drops, and clothing, posters, jewelry, etc. promoting drug use.

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