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Marijuana is a mood altering or psychoactive drug that
has many nicknames, such as pot, weed, ganja, sensi, herb, and others. It is an ancient drug that dates back to hundreds of years to Asia. Many cultures have used it during meditation, religious worship, and for intoxication. Marijuana itself comes from the Indian Hemp plant. It is the third most widely used drug in the United States, according to a survey taken in 1988, and it is the number one illegally used drug in the United States. Marijuana is so popular that an estimated one out of every three people in the US have tried it and around 44% of US high school students have smoked it. Marijuana users are not easily detectable, nor is the drug just used in one area of society. The Indian Hemp plant is found all over the world, including the US. There are three different types of Indian Hemp. They are Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Rudderalis. These three plants vary in size and mood altering effect. The hemp plant has many uses and has been farmed for centuries. Marijuana can be taken in three ways, by eating, made into a tea, or smoking (the most popular). Smoking it can be done three ways, through a pipe, a joint, blunt. A joint is a rolled piece of paper that is twisted at the ends. A blunt is normally an emptied cigar wrapper filled with marijuana. In a blunt you can fit much more marijuana. Though a blunt isn't always purely marijuana, it can be mixed with other drugs such as angel dust. The results are varied when someone smokes marijuana. Different people will get different results, and certain types of cannabis can cause different effects. The amount of THC (marijuana's main active chemical) may also change the result. If alcohol, or other drug use is occurring while smoking marijuana, the effect could be different. A first time marijuana smoker will probably feel no effect. A chronic or heavy user will get a high (intoxication). When a person is high, normal sights, sounds, tastes, or events can seem very funny or interesting. When intoxicated, time seems to pass a lot slower. To the user, minutes will seem like hours. The intoxicated person may get very thirsty or hungry, a common effect called, " the munchies." A few minutes after the person inhales they will probably get a dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, decreased reaction time, and also a loss of coordination. The blood vessels in the user's eyes will probably enlarge, giving the person a Page: 2 blood shot appearance. Within 2 to 3 hours the effects will die down and the person will feel sleepy. How is marijuana harmful? There are many ways that marijuana can harm the body, both the immediate effect and long term effects. It often disables the users short-term memory and may cause trouble with challenging tasks. Even very simple tasks can become a struggle for someone who is high. A student that is under the influence of marijuana may find it hard to learn or concentrate. A persons timing and coordination are normally delayed by marijuana. As a result the person will be very confused and useless. The effect marijuana can have on the brain and central nervous system are very serious. Smoking marijuana will reduce the strength and speed of communications between the mind and body. This occurs in the brain and muscles, causing the user to not be as focused. Short- term marijuana use leads to a drowsiness and relaxing effect. This is why marijuana users have trouble remembering things. A heavy dose of marijuana can decrease the amount of blood pumped into the brain. Marijuana effects the brain's control over muscles also. Heavy usage of Page: 3 marijuana can have a lasting effect on the users short-term memory. The blood flow to the back of the brain is greater than the front, after smoking. This is believed to cause the high sensation the user is after. The short-term effect of marijuana will increase blood pressure and pulse rate up to 16 points above normal. It will also slow down the digestive processing of food. People who smoke marijuana often will have a below normal pulse rate and blood pressure. A chronic user may experience dizziness or even faint. A user may not even need to be high to experience that, if the person stands up quickly they may faint. A well-known and common effect is blood shot eyes, though this effect wears off quickly. How does marijuana effect the heart? During the time when the user is high they will have an increased heart rate up to 50% above normal. The amount the heart rate increases depends on the amount of marijuana that was smoked. This will make exercise and other activities seem a lot harder. The effect could be extremely dangerous for a person with a congestive heart or with an irregular heartbeat. A chronic smoker will have a decreased heart rate, often below normal. Page: 4 The immediate effect of smoking marijuana on the lungs are a brief opening of the bronchial tubes. That is why marijuana has been tested for possible medical uses. It was not approved because there is a rebound reaction, which closes up the user's airways. Marijuana also irritates lung tissue. The long-term effect of smoking marijuana regularly is close to the effects of a tobacco cigarette smoker. Though the amount of tobacco consumed by the cigarette smoker is a lot higher than the amount of marijuana a chronic smoker will inhale, the harmful ingredients in marijuana are a lot higher than the amount in tobacco, causing a similar effect on the lungs. Marijuana smoke in the lungs will kill cilia. Cilia moves mucous, dirt and other particles out of the lungs. Also the heavy usage will decrease your lung's defense against bacterial and fungal infections. Marijuana is very harmful yet very widespread. It is an illegal drug that can harm almost every vital part of your body. It can make your memory vanish and cause your heart rate to slow. You could develop lung cancer or a dangerously low blood pressure. This drug isn't deadly, but close to it. It causes Americans everyday suffering just for those few minutes or hours of a good feeling. Is it worth it? Page: 5


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