Marijuana has an extensive history of human cultivation and use. Dating back to the first ancient cultures in recorded history, it is thought that marijuana’s first use was as an herbal medicine. The cannabis or hemp plant originally evolved in Central Asia and then made its way to Africa, Europe, and then the Americas. Some evidence exists that as time passed, ancient cultures became aware of the psychoactive properties of THC (“tetrahydrocannabinol”) found in cannabis: cultivated varieties with high levels of THC were sometimes used for ceremonial use.
In the 1830s, Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, a doctor studying in India, began to treat patients afflicted with nausea and cholera using cannabis extracts. By the late 1800s, cannabis extracts were widely sold in pharmacies throughout Europe and the United States. Today, a growing movement across the United States to legalize medical marijuana has resulted in legalization of medical marijuana in 33 states and decriminalization of recreational marijuana in a few states as well.
In the United States, marijuana was not commonly used for recreational purposes until the early 1900s, and by 1931, 29 states had criminalized the drug. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was the first law enacted that criminalized marijuana use across the nation. The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 listed marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, placing it in the same category as heroin and LSD. Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug today. Although the DEA has no record of anyone dying from a marijuana overdose, synthetic cannabis, a cocktail of synthetically manufactured cannabinoids, has severe side effects and is known to result in coma or death.
What Is Marijuana?
A greenish gray mixture of the dried flower buds of the “cannabis sativa” plant, marijuana is commonly smoked in the form of hand rolled “joints” or from water pipes, commonly called “bongs.” Marijuana can also be brewed in tea, added to food in the form of edibles, and even vaporized. Stronger forms of marijuana in the form of concentrated resins containing high doses of THC include hash oil, waxy budder and a hard amber shatter. These resins are primarily used by those who use marijuana as a recreational drug.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in this country, with a reported 22.2 million Americans using it on a regular basis. In 2016, 9.4 percent of 8th grade students reported using marijuana in some form over the past year. Among 12th graders, that number rose to 35.6 percent of students who report using the drug over the past twelve months. Common street names for marijuana are “weed,” “bud,” “herb,” “trees,” “pot,” “grass,” and “Mary Jane.”
What Is Marijuana Used For?
When marijuana is consumed by smoking, the active ingredient, THC, enters the lungs, is absorbed into the blood stream and then moves on to the brain. The effects of marijuana are experienced immediately, and typically include a pleasant state of relaxation and euphoria. Heightened sensory perception and an altered sense of time are also reported by some users.
Scientific study of cannabinoids has led to two medications that are approved by the FDA in tablet form. These tablets are primarily used to treat symptoms associated with HIV and AIDS. Medically prescribed marijuana is known to increase appetite and decrease nausea. Additionally, the THC found in marijuana is thought to decrease pain, inflammation and issues with muscle control.
Is Marijuana Safe?
Marijuana is known to produce the following negative effects:
- Short-term memory issues
- Severe anxiety
- Loss of sense of personal identity
- Lower reaction time
- Increased risk of stroke
- Low libido in males
- Decline in IQ
- Decreased ability to perform complex tasks
- Antisocial behavior
- Increased appetite
Medically prescribed and monitored marijuana use has proven to be safe and effective. Noticeable effects of marijuana drug use typically last from one to three hours. When marijuana is consumed through edibles, these effects may last longer, up to several hours. Detectable amounts of THC remain in the body for several weeks following use.
Can You Be Addicted to Weed?
Marijuana addiction is commonly referred to as marijuana use disorder, which can develop into a severe addiction in some cases. Research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that 30 percent of marijuana users are currently experiencing a degree of marijuana use disorder. Marijuana drug users who begin using before age 18 are significantly more likely to develop marijuana use disorder.
How do you know if you or your loved one is addicted to marijuana? You may notice some or all of the following common signs:
- Very frequent use through smoking, vaping, ingesting or a combination of all forms
- High preoccupation with getting high
- Issues with retaining steady employment
- Problematic friendships or family relationships
- Normal daily activities are affected or interrupted by marijuana use
If activities that used to be fun for you, like watching movies, hiking, fishing, or hanging out with loved ones are no longer fun without the use of marijuana, you are experiencing marijuana dependency.
Marijuana Dependence Disorder Treatment
People who are experiencing marijuana use disorders, especially adolescents, commonly suffer from other psychiatric disorders and are best treated holistically. Studies have shown that effectively treating mental health disorders with medication and behavioral therapy can successfully reduce marijuana use.
The following behavioral approaches are commonly used to treat marijuana dependence:
- Contingency management – This approach consists of frequent monitoring of your behaviors and rewarding desired behaviors.
- Motivational enhancement therapy – Designed to achieve rapid change, this therapy encourages patients to identify and utilize their internal resources to change behaviors.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy – This treatment is a form of psychotherapy that can teach you healthy, new ways to cope with stress and cravings rather than reverting back to marijuana use.
During professional detox and treatment, medication may be used to ease marijuana withdrawal symptoms, such as sleeplessness and restlessness, while group and individual behavioral therapies will also be administered to help patients overcome self-defeating triggers. With these interventions, many patients with marijuana use disorder have achieved a successful recovery.
If you or a loved one suspect that you may be experiencing marijuana dependency disorder, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Contact an FHE addiction counselor today by calling us at (866) 653-6220. Our compassionate team of counselors are standing by to take your call 24/7. Start your journey to recovery today.