Classification: cannabis--possession and distribution are illegal.

Source: hemp plant (cannabis sativa) which grows wild in most of the tropical and temperate areas of the world. Marijuana is often found growing around underbrush and trees, making it difficult to detect. State and National "seek and destroy" agencies work together to eliminate wild and cultivated growths of marijuana.

Most wild U.S. marijuana is considered inferior to cultivated marijuana because the wild variety has a low concentration of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). The cultivated marijuana contains up to ten times the amount of THC found in the wild variety. Marijuana is generally cultivated in sparsely populated areas but is increasingly being grown indoors under greenhouse-type conditions.

Slang terms: pot, grass, weed, reefer, jay, doobie, lid, bag, lb's, kilos, smoke, joint, roach, dope, mary jane, home-grown, sinsemilla, acapulco gold, mexican dirt pot, and thai sticks.

Appearance: The marijuana plant normally has an odd number of leaflets per stem, such as five, seven, or nine, and can grow up to 20 feet high. Prepared marijuana resembles coarsely ground oregano or thyme. In loose form, it is generally packaged in small plastic sandwich bags. In brick form, large pieces of marijuana, twigs, leaves, stalks, and seeds are compressed into blocks, called "kilobricks," measuring 5" x 2 1/2" x 12".

Ground marijuana: the most popular method of marijuana use is smoking in the form of joints (resembling loosely rolled cigarettes). Joints are hand-rolled and smaller than commercial cigarettes, and are crimped at both ends to hold the finely ground marijuana. Marijuana is also smoked in pipes, ingested in foods, such as brownies and cakes, or brewed into a "tea." The sale of marijuana paraphernalia is a big business. Assorted paraphernalia used to smoke marijuana includes bongs, water pipes, pipes, power hitters, roach clips, rolling papers, and scales for weighing the amount of marijuana to be bought or sold.

Other derivatives of the hemp plant (cannabis sativa) produce the following drugs:

There are over 460 chemicals in marijuana. These increase to over 2,000 when smoked. One of the psychoactive cannabinoids that causes the "high" is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The higher the content of THC, the more intoxicating and harmful it becomes. Urine tests can detect THC metabolites for a week after marijuana has been smoked. While alcohol dissipates in a matter of hours, marijuana stays in the body for 28 days.

Effects: the following effects are felt within minutes, reach their peak in 10 to 30 minutes, and may linger for two to three hours:



Indications of marijuana abuse:

Addiction: continued use leads to increased tolerance levels requiring more and more marijuana to achieve the same "high" sensations. Prolonged use leads to mental dependence.

Withdrawal: symptoms of withdrawal from chronic marijuana use include insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, mental confusion, anorexia, nausea, depression, and a craving for marijuana.

Young people who begin to use marijuana on a regular basis tend to lose interest and motivation in school. The effects of marijuana can interfere with learning by impairing the thinking process, lowering reading comprehension, and effecting verbal communication. Students do not remember what they have learned when they are "high." Research indicates that one of the major concerns of marijuana use by young people is the likelihood of the user experimenting with other drugs. In a recent survey, 16 percent (or 294,720) of people aged 15 - 19 had used marijuana and 9 percent (165,780 people) were current users.