Marijuana is made from parts of the cannabis plants – it is often rolled like a cigarette or stuffed into a pipe and smoked, though it can also be ingested, releasing the chemical THC, into the body. THC floods the brain and connects to receptions in regions responsible for mood, coordination and problem solving. The presence of THC in these regions prevents normal brain communication, leading to attention and memory impairment, loss of balance and coordination and psychotic episodes.
Along with alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs among teens – 42% of U.S. 12th graders have tried it at least once. Frequent marijuana use in young adults has been shown to permanently affect the brain, reducing connectivity among brain receptors responsible for learning and memory and lower IQ scores.
Marijuana also is the most common illegal drug to be found in drivers who die in car accidents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
K2 and Spice are common forms of synthetic cannabis with effects similar to marijuana. Their ingredients bind to the same cannabinoid brain receptors as THC; however, they may produce an even more potent reaction, depending on the ingredients used. K2 and Spice are illegal in the U.S. as of 2010.
Signs & Effects of Marijuana Use
- Increased appetite
- Red eyes
- Short-term memory impairment
- Increased anxiety
- Dry mouth