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Recreational marijuana, also known as pot, weed, hash and mary jane is the dried and shredded mix of flowers, stems, seeds and leaves of Cannabis sativa, a hemp plant that is usually smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe. In the US, smoking marijuana is illegal and is the most commonly abused illegal substance in the US.
However, there have been some indications that certain components of Cannabis sativa called cannabinoids may have medicinal value, and these are called medical marijuana. Some that have been identified include delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is thought to be the active ingredient for the mind-altering effect of marijuana as well as an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. THC has also been found to be efficacious in the alleviation of pain, whether taken by itself or in combination with opiates.
Smoking marijuana is also said to reduce the pressure on the eyeball associated with glaucoma; however, the pharmacokinetics has yet to be discovered. It is believed the presence of CB1 receptors in the eyes may account for this effect. Presently, researchers are attempting to isolate the active cannabinoid responsible for this therapeutic effect and eliminate the adverse health consequences of
Tremors, muscle spasms and pain secondary to multiple sclerosis (MS) has also been found to be reduced with the use of cannabinoids, and researchers believe it is due marijuana’s protective effect on nerves against damage resulting from MS. Research is ongoing regarding applications as MS treatment.
Information you should know
There are two types of receptors to which cannabinoids attach, namely CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are normally found in the brain, which explains the adverse side effects of smoking marijuana. CB2 receptors however are found in tissue in the immune system and its mechanism is not well understood at this point, but is believed to inhibit the immune system. When smoked, marijuana hits the system within minutes and the effects can last up to 2 hours. When ingested, the effect takes several hours to kick in but the effect also lasts much longer.
Directions for taking Marijuana
A marijuana-based prescriptive product called Marinol has approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in cancer and AIDS patients. The active ingredient is synthetic THC and comes in a pill and may soon be available as a patch or inhaler. THC relieves nausea and vomiting and increases the appetite for AIDS patients.
Smoked marijuana, however has yet to be prescribed as therapy for any condition. While it may have medical applications, the 400 different chemicals present in its raw form makes smoked marijuana a cure more dangerous than the disease. In fact, no medication has ever been approved by the FDA in which the delivery system is smoking because it is difficult to administer safely. Effects of smoked marijuana include increased risk of a heart attack, respiratory problems, hallucinations, susceptibility to infections, impaired balance and coordination, and
increased cancer risk.