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Marijuana – Understanding Addiction

• Marijuana is a leafy material from the cannabis plant that is smoked.
• You can make rope and other materials from C. sativa because it is cultivated into hemp.
• Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive agent in cannabis. Most of the THC is present in the flowering tops of the plant. The leaves and stock have some but much less.
 Hashish is the most potent. It is not found in the US very often.
• Sinsemilla is the high potency marijuana made from female plant.
• Chinese emperor Shen Nung made the first reference to cannabis in a pharmacy book in 2737 BC. He recommended it for many small medical uses.
• Social use spread in 1000 AD to the Muslim world and North Africa.
• During the 1840’s many writers and artists used hashish and expressed it in their writings.
• As the end of the 19th century approached, the use of psychoactive drugs increased and hashish held little interest in middle America.
• In 1926 a series of articles associating marijuana and crime appeared in a New Orleans newspaper.
• Thirty-six states had laws regulating the use, sale and/or possession of marijuana by 1935.
• Many laws were based on, and developed, because of popular literature linking marijuana to crime, and not because of the effect of the drug.
• Scientific American reported in 1939 that marijuana, when combined with intoxicants, makes the user have a desire to fight and kill.
• Many newspaper reports were similar and blamed marijuana for killing and fighting.
• The problem was that there was no medical evidence to support the relationship between marijuana and crime.
• The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed without much debate. It was a tax law so it did not outlaw marijuana – just taxed it.
• One medical doctor testified against the bill because he felt the states anti-marijuana laws were adequate and that the social-menace case against cannabis had not been proven.
• In the 1950’s and 60’s scientific research on cannabis declined but use went up.
• There are more then 400 chemicals in marijuana but only 66 of them are unique to cannabis.
• THC was isolated and synthesized in 1964 and is clearly the most pharmacologically active.
• THC is rapidly absorbed into the blood and distributed first to the brain. Peak psychological and cardiovascular effects occur within 5 to 10 minutes but have a half-life of 19 hours.
• THC can be found in the body for over one week. The longer and more regular the usage, the longer THC can be found in the body.
• THC is known to bind to two receptors located in the cerebellum, the hippocampus, the cerebral cortex and the nucleus accumbens. Others are located throughout the body.
• A consistent, acute, physiological effect of smoking marijuana and oral THC is an increase in heart rate.
• Recent studies demonstrate that animals will consistently self-administer Cannabinoid in laboratory experiments.
• Epidemiological data shows us that marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the world and that Americans have sought treatment for marijuana abuse and dependence more than any other illicit drug.
• Cannabis never attained the medical status of opium.
• One problem with medical research is the variability of cannabis.
• In 1941 cannabis was dropped from The National Formulary and The US Pharmacopoeia.
• The development of better drugs, the variability of the available medicinal cannabis, the insolubility of it in water, thus not amenable to be injectable, and if the unusually long latency of effect if taken orally all lead to the decline inmedical use of cannabis.
• In 1972 a new report showed that marijuana smoking was effective in reducing the fluid pressure in the eyes of glaucoma patients.
• Another medical use was reported in 1975. THC was found to help with severe nausea suffered by those taking certain cancer treating drugs.
• The FDA licensed a drug company to make a pill form of THC for treatment of the nausea in cancer patients in 1985 and extended the use to AIDS patients in 1993.
• The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) pushed to have marijuana moved from a Schedule I to Schedule II so it can be prescribed to patients.
• In 1992 the DEA said that there was “insufficient evidence” to justify rescheduling marijuana because THC pills were available.
• According to the DSM-IVTR marijuana does not have withdrawal effects. There are some studies that show that there is such a thing.
• The acute physiological effects of marijuana have not been seen to be life threatening. There have been no reported deaths from overdose of THC.
• There is no clear decision on if marijuana impairs driving. Studies done in a lab, with non-regular marijuana users, show there are significant impairments. Studies done on drivers involved in car accidents show there is not an over-representation of marijuana use.
• A panic reaction is another problem with marijuana intoxication. This reaction is most common among less experienced marijuana users.
• Total tar levels, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and nirosamines are found in similar amounts in tobacco cigarettes and marijuana cigarettes. Benzopyrene is found in greater amounts in marijuana but few users smoke 20 marijuana cigarettes at one time.
• Heavy marijuana smoking can decrease testosterone levels and diminish sperm counts. Sperm structure also can be altered.
• Lower birth weight and shorter length at birth are reported in mothers who smoked during pregnancy. The problem is that most women who are smoking marijuana are also drinking and smoking tobacco during the pregnancy.
• Chronic, heavy marijuana smokers have been seen to be have diminished motivation, impaired ability to learn and experience family problems. If they stop smoking and remain in counseling, the condition can improve. This would seam to indicate a constant state of intoxication rather than changes in the brain.
• In 1970 the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was established with a grant from the Playboy Foundation.
• Many groups came out for the decriminalization of marijuana, not to make it legal, but to take away the jail time for having small amounts
• Many states give small amounts of marijuana a civil fine, while others legalized marijuana for medical reason. The Federal government still has marijuana as a schedule I drug with federal consequences. Federal law supersedes state law.

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