Marijuana

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Marijuana plant

Photo by NIDA

Also known as: Blunt, Boom, Bud, Gangster, Ganja, Grass, Green, Hash, Herb, Joint, Pot, Reefer, Sinsemilla, Skunk, and Weed

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Stronger forms of the drug include high potency strains - known as sinsemilla (sin-seh-me-yah), hashish (hash for short), and extracts including hash oil, shatter, wax, and budder.

Of the more than 500 chemicals in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is responsible for many of the drug’s psychotropic (mind-altering) effects. It’s this chemical that distorts how the mind perceives the world. In other words, it's what makes a person high.

Read 10 things you can learn about marijuana.

Strength and Potency

The amount of THC in marijuana has increased over the past few decades. In the early 1990s, the average THC content in marijuana was less than 4 percent. It is now about 15 percent and much higher in some products such as oils and other extracts (see below). Scientists do not yet know what this increase in potency means for a person’s health. Some people adjust how they consume marijuana (by smoking or eating less) to compensate for the greater potency. There have been reports of people seeking help in emergency rooms with symptoms, including nervousness, shaking and psychosis (having false thoughts or seeing or hearing things that aren't there), after consuming high concentrations of THC. 

Marijuana Extracts

Smoking extracts and resins from the marijuana plant with high levels of THC is on the rise. There are several forms of these extracts, such as hash oil, budder, wax, and shatter. These resins have 3 to 5 times more THC than the plant itself. Smoking or vaping it (also called dabbing) can deliver dangerous amounts of THC and has led some people to seek treatment in the emergency room. There have also been reports of people injured in fires and explosions caused by attempts to extract hash oil from marijuana leaves using butane (lighter fluid).

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