Marijuana: Frequently Asked Questions

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1 Marijuana: Frequently Asked Questions What is marijuana/cannabis? It is the leaves, flowers and other parts of the cannabis plant that have been prepared for smoking or other consumption by drying and then shredding. The cannabis plant is found around the world. The intoxicating ingredient in cannabis is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Different strains of cannabis and different growing processes result in quite different quantities of THC, from an average of 10% to as much as 33% in some strains grown hydroponically. How is Marijuana used? Marijuana is usually made into a hand-rolled cigarette and then smoked, or a cigar can be emptied out and refilled with marijuana. Other drugs or formaldehyde may be added to the cigar before smoking. Some people like to cook marijuana into food, then eat the food. Brownies are a common dish to use for this purpose. What names might a person use for marijuana? There are many slang terms for marijuana/cannabis. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, these are the terms commonly used for marijuana: Aunt Mary, BC Bud, Blunts (cigars filled with marijuana), Boom, Chronic, Dope, Gangster, Ganja, Grass, Hash (a particular preparation of marijuana resin), Herb, Hydro, Indo, Joint, Kif, Mary Jane, Mota, Pot, Reefer, Sinsemilla (a particular type of marijuana involving use of only female plants), Skunk (a particular kind of marijuana, often grown hydroponically), Smoke, Weed, Yerb. Ref: How can you tell a person has used marijuana/cannabis? Physically, they may have red eyes dry mouth and throat, and they may have an increased appetite, particularly for snack foods. Mentally, they are likely to appear relaxed and euphoric and their time and space perceptions may be inaccurate. They may seem sedated and drowsy. They may have trouble learning and remembering things and be unable to concentrate as well as usual. Sights, sounds and tastes may seem more vivid to them. Ref: NHTSA - Marijuana Impairment

2 How long does marijuana/cannabis stay in the body? Traces of marijuana stay in the body for several days after use. If a person has been using marijuana heavily, it sometimes takes weeks for the traces to be eliminated from the body. Ref: NIDA: Marijuana Facts for Teens Is it dangerous to drive after using marijuana? The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) described the effects of using marijuana related to driving: "The ability to concentrate and maintain attention are decreased during marijuana use, and impairment of hand-eye coordination is dose-related." In other words, the more marijuana that is used, the less a person is able to drive safely. The NHTSA also noted that sleepiness, distortion of time and distance and loss of coordination could last as long as 24 hours after use. Their conclusions were that low use resulted in moderate impairment of ability to drive but chronic or heavy use or use along with alcohol would result in severe impairment. Can I overdose on marijuana? No one has ever died of marijuana overdose by itself. But it is possible to suffer serious effects of too much THC. Cannabis growers continually find ways to increase the THC content of marijuana, so that the average THC content has increased from an average of 4% in 1983 to an average of 10% in Some strains of cannabis tested much higher. High doses of THC have been shown to result in mental confusion, panic attacks and hallucination. Ref: CNN Health: Marijuana Potency Surpasses 10 percent, US Says Could it make any problems for me as a student if I use marijuana? The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated that marijuana use harms one's ability to pay attention and remember what one is learned. In particular, what is damaged is the ability to do complex tasks that require that one focus and concentrate while handling a lot of information. Difficulty thinking and executing problem-solving have also been noted. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse noted that students with lower grades were far more likely to use marijuana that students with good grades but is it not clear if marijuana was involved in causing those lower grades. Ref: Marijuana Drug Use (Info for Parents of Teens)

3 What mental or physical problems can marijuana use cause? According to the 2011 World Drug Report, cannabis products can produce temporary symptoms of psychosis, loss of ability to learn or remember recent events, reduced ability to carry out certain mental tasks, make certain decisions and pay attention. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a person who starts using cannabis early and uses is heavily could run an increased risk of psychotic disorders. Physically, marijuana smokers have risks similar to those of smokers: bronchitis, emphysema, asthma. Extensive use can cause suppression of the immune system and can increase the risk of cancer to the head, neck and lungs. A report in Spain stated that they had found a link between heavy marijuana use and psychosis that starts during adolescence. Researchers ruled out any connection to use of other drugs. Ref: Herald Globe: Link between marijuana use and psychosis Does marijuana use lead to use of other, more dangerous drugs? It has not been determined yet whether or not marijuana use leads to use of other drugs, but studies show that most young people try marijuana first before going on to other drugs. It's hard to say if they would have done this anyway or if marijuana use got them started using drugs and then it was easier to use other drugs. Is Marijuana addictive? Long-term use of marijuana can be addictive. This means that the user cannot control his (or her) use of the drug even though there is harm to many aspects of his life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 9% of people who use marijuana will become addicted. Statistically, addiction is even more likely for a person who starts using marijuana in his or her teens. Are there withdrawal symptoms when one comes off heavy marijuana use? Some people say that there are no withdrawal symptoms after stopping marijuana use because they are not as dramatic as the withdrawal symptoms for alcohol or heroin. But they do exist. Chronic users are likely to experience headaches, shakiness, sweating, stomach pains and nausea. Behaviorally, they are likely to feel restless and irritable, have difficulty sleeping and not have much appetite. They also suffer anxiety and have strong cravings for the drug. Ref: NIDA Report: Marijuana Abuse

4 Can marijuana addiction be treated? Yes, marijuana addiction can successfully be overcome. The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program has had excellent success helping people who became addicted to marijuana or who started using marijuana and then went on to use other drugs. Across all types of addiction, seven out of ten addicts who seek recovery at Narconon stay clean and sober after graduation. Ref: Narconon Treatment Center Hidden Dangers of Marijuana With all the pro-medical marijuana publicity and the clamoring for decriminalization of this drug, it can be hard to remember that marijuana is indeed damaging and addictive and causes harmful effects. It's quite possible we are doing a terrible disservice to our children when we are permissive about the dangers of marijuana. Though they are not headline news, there are serious and harmful effects associated with abusing marijuana. Marijuana use and addiction are most pronounced in America's young people. Of those going to rehabilitation for weed addiction, 45 percent are under 21 years of age. When those 24 and younger are included, the percentage rises to 55. Thus it is important to let our youth know the risks, rather than letting them accept the decriminalization campaigns without rebuttal. Narconon drug recovery centers around the world are helping people recover from their addictions to marijuana by enabling them to repair the damage that has been done. It is a process that takes three to five months on average, and involves thorough detoxification, restoration of life and problem-solving skills and much more. But the drug-free and damage-free result is worth the work. Specific Damages Associated with Marijuana Use Dangers in the immediate effects of marijuana include distortions of time and space perceptions and impaired coordination, all of which may be contributing to the increased risk of traffic accidents recently discovered. Particularly important for students to know about is the creation of difficulty thinking or problem solving and impairment of memory and learning. These difficulties can last for as long as four weeks after drug use. Chronic marijuana use and higher dosages are found to correlate to greater incidence of psychosis and schizophrenia. This point is particularly significant due to the increases in drug potency over the last two decades. While the average potency has risen from 3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol - the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana) a couple of decades ago to 9% now, there are some samples of weed that

5 measure as high as 25%. These premium strains are normally grown hydroponically, are often smuggled in from Canada and demand a higher price than commercial-grade marijuana from Mexico. Heavy abusers of marijuana were found to suffer damage to social life, work or career status and cognitive ability. Schoolwork and the achievement of goals were also found to suffer. But proponents of legalization, decriminalization or medicalization of marijuana do not make this clear to America's young people so they can make informed choices. By ranking marijuana in with medical treatments, the clear implication is that the drug is harmless. Narconon's Process of Recovery from Addiction It takes time to rebuild a drug-free life from the ashes of one that was ruined by drugs. For most people, the Narconon drug and alcohol recovery program takes three to five months. The process starts with a well supported withdrawal step that alleviates some of the worst of the irritability, anxiety and depression that normally results for those who were addicted to marijuana. When withdrawal is complete, each person goes through elementary communication skills training. Anyone around an addicted person sees that their interaction with people and environmental factors becomes impaired by the drug use, but the user himself or herself is often the last to find out. This study of theory and the practical drills begin to put a person back in charge of his or her own life. According to information published by the Brookhaven National Laboratory, THC residues are stored in the fat cells of the body, and therefore is harder to eliminate. A thorough detoxification utilizing a lowheat sauna, moderate daily exercise and a strict regimen of nutritional supplements is the next action in one's recovery from addiction, to detoxify these remnants. These residues have been shown to be involved in the triggering of cravings, even years after drug use stops. When these residues are flushed out of fatty tissues where they are stored, cravings ordinary drop remarkably - some people even say they are gone. Then a Person is Ready to Build New Drug-Free Life Skills Staying drug free after these improvements means that each person must learn how to choose associates who will not lead to more drug use, how to solve problems, how to achieve goals and much more. In the life skills component of the Narconon drug rehab program, these skills are learned and then are practiced. The result is that seven out of ten graduates remain sober after they go home, one of the best success rates in the field of drug rehab. MARIJUANA TODAY

6 There are plenty of supporters on both sides of the marijuana decriminalization issue in the US. On one side, some people want to decriminalize the drug. Proponents of medical use of marijuana would benefit from this move, as the drug would be more broadly available and merchandisable to the public. On the other side, many people still consider the drug to be hazardous to persons and society at large. Marijuana today, its legalization and distribution, is still hotly debated and has been for more than a decade. The fact is that we're not getting rid of this drug any time soon so it would be smart to know what damage might be created by its use. Effects of Marijuana Use Marijuana's short-term effects include distorted perceptions of time and space, increasing the risk of traffic accident or personal injury. Difficulty thinking and solving problems can impede learning. And since so many people abusing marijuana are high school and college-age, this effect is particularly significant. Heavy use of marijuana is linked to mental disturbances including psychosis and schizophrenia. Chronic use coincides with greater incidence of anxiety and depression. And since marijuana potencies have been increasing for the last two decades, there is a greater chance of adverse mental effects when the drug is abused. The simple fact is that marijuana today is much stronger than what they used to have back 20 years ago. In 1983, a monitoring project for marijuana potency found that the average content of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana) was under 4 percent but by 2008, the average had risen to more than 10 percent. Samples of hydroponically grown marijuana can have THC contents of 25 percent or more. Hydroponic marijuana is smuggled in from Canada and is grown in indoor sites across the US. Rehabilitating the person addicted to marijuana is most effectively done in a long-term rehab program, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A program of three months or longer is recommended for the best result. At Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers around the world, those who have become addicted to marijuana and those who started abusing marijuana and then progressed on to stronger drugs can find lasting sobriety. Most people complete this multi-faceted program in three to five months. This holistic program guides people through a repair of the damage done by addiction, a correction of basic situations that led to drug use in the beginning, and the learning of life skills that can protect one's long-term sobriety. Detoxification is an Important Building Block of Lasting Sobriety

7 Each person seeking sobriety must also overcome the cravings that can drive one back into drug abuse. At Narconon programs, a great improvement normally results from the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program, one phase of the overall rehab program. This phase utilizes a low-heat sauna, generous nutritional supplementation and daily exercise in a strictly-supervised detoxification action. This combination of sauna, exercise and nutrition address the fact that THC is stored in the fat tissues of the body, as the drug is fat-soluble. These residues can remain stored in the fat for long periods of time after drug use stops. It's harder for a body's natural cleansing action to flush out toxins in fat, so the development of this detoxification process is a major breakthrough for those seeking lasting sobriety. The combination of nutrition, exercise and sauna time activates the body's ability to flush toxins stored deep in fatty tissues. The result of this detox is clearer thinking, brighter outlook and improved mood. Many people finishing this step also talk about their increased energy and reduced cravings. Some people say those cravings are gone. Following Detox, Life Skills Must be Taught When drugs are used heavily and over a long period, it is common for a person to lose his or her personal integrity and life skills. Problems have been "solved" for some time by just using drugs or alcohol, and now they actually must be addressed. Otherwise, the conflicts created by unhandled life situations could just drive a person back into drug or alcohol abuse as an escape. Each person on the Narconon drug rehab program learns the basics of personal integrity and selfrespect, honesty, positive relationships, and problem solving. He or she then puts these skills to work to build a new, sober life. When the Narconon program is complete, relationships that were damaged or destroyed by addiction have been repaired and a strong personal moral code is in place to stabilize one's future. It's then time to create a new set of personal goals so that new, drug-free life is filled with hope and accomplishment. When a Narconon graduate goes home, he or she has a 70% chance of achieving lasting sobriety, one of the highest success rates in this field. When you are trying to help an addicted person recover the joy of a sober life, whether the drug is marijuana, alcohol, cocaine or prescription drugs, find out how the Narconon drug and alcohol recovery program can help your dream come true. There are Narconon centers on six continents. Contact the international offices of Narconon to find the one closest to you. Call today. Resources: NY Times Article: Marijuana and Medical Marijuana ONDCP: Marijuana Frequently Asked Questions UNODC World Drug Report for 2011 CNN: Marijuana Potency

8 Marijuana Facts from DrugAbuse.gov SAMHSA Marijuana Info NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment Cannabis Withdrawal CNN: Marijuana Potency Suprasses 10 Percent SAMHSA: Marijuana Info UN World Drug Report for 2011

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