Cannabis – Marijuana

Cannabis, Marijuana (Pot, Weed)

Street Terms: Grass, pot, weed, bud, Mary Jane, dope, indo, hydro, ganga

Cannabis (Marijuana) is a green, brown, or grey mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant. Marijuana has a chemical in it called tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. All forms of marijuana are mind-altering (psychoactive). In other words, they change how the brain works. A lot of other chemicals are found in marijuana, too — about 400 of them, some of which are carcinogenic. Marijuana is addictive with more teens in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.

Using marijuana can also lead to disturbed perceptions and thoughts, and marijuana use can worsen psychotic symptoms in people who have schizophrenia.

Additionally, there are higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking among people who use marijuana when compared to people who don’t use. Teens who started using marijuana before age 15 are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression in early adulthood. A new study shows that smoking marijuana is associated with a 40% increase risk of psychosis, and the risk is greater among regular and frequent users.

Cannabis withdrawal

At one time cannabis was considered a drug that had no withdrawal symptoms because users did not display symptoms similar to those withdrawing from alcohol or opiates. Contrary to this, experimental research supports reports of users who relate evidence of heavy cannabis use producing psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Kouri and Pope examined withdrawal symptoms over 28 days abstinence from cannabis, while Budney et al. looked at a time period of abstinence of 45 days.                   Their study assessed withdrawal symptoms among chronic cannabis users who were assessed daily on various symptoms while on a hospital ward for 28 days. They rated mood, anxiety, depression and irritability and compared them to those of two control groups of abstinent former heavy cannabis users and non-users of cannabis. Chronic cannabis users showed decreases in mood and appetite and increases in irritability, anxiety, physical tension and physical symptoms and their scores on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scale increased. Both studies used urinalysis to ensure abstinence, and showed that withdrawal symptoms began within 1–3 days of abstinence and lasted for 10–14 days. According to Budney et al., the withdrawal syndrome associated with cannabis use is similar to that for tobacco but of lesser magnitude than withdrawal from other drugs like opiates or alcohol.

Significantly, evidence indicates that withdrawal symptoms are alleviated when cannabis users resume using cannabis after a period of abstinence. And recent laboratory research has focused on the role of brain chemistry in cannabis dependence. As with other drugs such as heroin, cannabis increases the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with rewarding feelings. Budney et al. argue that the upkeep of this neurotransmitter may motivate people to use cannabis in an addictive way