Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Some slang terms to describe marijuana include "pot," "herb," "weed," "boom," "Mary Jane," "gangster," and "chronic." The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol).

Some short-term effects of marijuana include problems with memory and learning. Individuals experience distorted perceptions, difficulty thinking and problem-solving, loss of coordination, increased heart rate, anxiety and panic attacks.

The main area of the brain that is impacted by marijuana is the limbic system. The limbic system is key to learning, memory, and the integration of sensory experiences with emotions and motivations. You make know students who are forgetful, lack motivation, or would rather just "hang" in their room instead of getting involved in organizations and social events. Perhaps marijuana is the culprit that is impacting this person's ability to succeed academically and socially.

Marijuana users are at great risk of developing respiratory problems similar to tobacco smokers. These individuals have problems with coughing, phlegm, chest colds, and other chronic bronchitis problems. The amount of tar that is inhaled by marijuana smokers is three to five times greater than tobacco smokers. Smoking one joint is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes.

A study of college students has shown that critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning are impaired, even after discontinuing its use for at least 24 hours. These students were given several standardized tests measuring attention, memory, and learning. The marijuana users made more mistakes, had difficulty sustaining attention and problems with registering, processing, and using information.

Longitudinal research on marijuana use among college students indicated users of marijuana are more accepting of deviant behavior, aggression, poor relationships with others, and more associations with drug-using friends.

A recent study at the University of Vermont found marijuana to be addictive. Some of the withdrawal symptoms in nicotine users were also found in marijuana users. These include agitation, sweats, and craving. A drug is addicting if it causes compulsive, often-uncontrollable drug craving, seeking, and use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences. Marijuana meets these criteria. More than 120,000 people seek treatment per year for their primary marijuana addiction.


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