Everything You Need To Know About Marijuana

Marijuana enjoys great popularity in the world. Every single day there is news about Marijuana in almost every media source. In the entertainment sector, issues of marijuana such as growing, selling, usage and dependency have been widely explored and covered. Globally, the community that uses marijuana is large. In fact, The United Nations 2008 World Drug Report states that marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug. As per the report, around 3.9% of the world’s population in the ages of 15 to 64 abuse marijuana.

While marijuana is this popular, there is a lot about marijuana that many people don’t know. Even if it is quite hard for anyone to live their entire lives without a friend who uses marijuana, the information we have about it is little. Surprisingly enough, many users also, know very little about the drug except the effect they get.

Nowadays, marijuana, in general, has been receiving a lot of attention due to its medicinal potentials. Many studies are now being done to determine if marijuana can be used for more than the “high” effect. The success of these researches has led to more being done as well as the increase in the acceptance of the use of marijuana in many parts in the world. 

Now governments are legalising the use of marijuana for medicinal uses, and it is being sold openly by registered specialists. People no longer fear about discussing and can boldly research about marijuana. Now more and more people are learning about marijuana, mostly its good and bad sides. A lot of people now don’t think this drug is all that risky.

You most certainly are very curious about marijuana at this point and want to know what it is about this drug that makes it receive all this attention. There is little about marijuana that is taught in schools which is why additional information always welcome.

 

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is a psychoactive drug extracted from Cannabis plants. The drug, commonly used for recreational and medical purposes comes in forms of dried flowering tops, stems, leaves and seeds. The main active ingredient that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties is a compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Interestingly, THC is one of the 483 known compounds of cannabis, where 65 of these are cannabinoids. Researches conducted to find about the medicinal value of marijuana targets the common cannabinoids of cannabis, THC and cannabidiol known to many as CBD.

 

What Are The Common Terms For Marijuana?

The popularity has led to marijuana gaining very interesting names, or maybe the terms have increased its popularity. It is reported that this drug has more than 1,200 slang terms. You’ll be surprised to learn a new term when you visit a new place or another society across the globe. Some common names include skunk, Peng, 420, zoot, hooch, ganja, pot, weed, herb, ganja, Mary Jane, chronic, ganja, hash, northern lights and many others across the English-speaking communities in the world. 

The best explanation why marijuana has a lot of slang terms is because users and sellers must find ways to become inconspicuous to both the authority and society, considering the drug has been illegal for so long, and there has been a lot of turmoil surrounding its growth, sale and usage.

While we are on names, it might be interesting to know that even though not many people used to research marijuana, scientists have come up with over 2,300 names for individual strains of marijuana.

 

How Is Marijuana Used?

There’s no doubt most people would answer this question with a simple answer of “for recreational use”. This certainly is what all those who went got basic education in schools learned. The psychoactive properties of cannabis give users a “high” effect that they enjoy. 

This is the euphoric feeling that most likely leads to marijuana dependency in users. Besides being a recreational drug, marijuana is also used for medical purposes.

 

What Information Is There About The Medical Use Of Marijuana?

Clinical experts and experts over the years have been finding the potential of health benefits in marijuana with a particular Target to cannabinoids. Many studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of cannabinoids CBD and THC found in marijuana in treating a number of diseases. These include health conditions such as epilepsy, arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, inflammation, mental disorders such as anxiety, and depression. 

Medical marijuana has been approved by certain governments to help with patients suffering from diseases and conditions such as AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, glaucoma, migraines, seizures, severe pain and nausea, persistent muscle spasms and others. Obviously, these patients are using marijuana for medical purposes, with common compounds used for and studied for certain diseases.

 

What Is The Contribution Of CBD In The Medical Field?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the compound of marijuana that accounts for up to 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract. Unlike most cannabinoids extracted from cannabis, CBD has no psychoactive properties. It is also the cannabinoid that has very few side effects when used for medical reasons. CBD was discovered a long time ago in 1940, but extensive researches on the cannabinoid in the medical field were not conducted. These studies began recently and increased in the past few years, where experts were looking for better alternatives to the medicines used.

While many experts and studies point to CBD being an effective alternative to treating a number of conditions, the FDA approved the use of this cannabinoid is for treating two rare and severe types of epilepsy, which otherwise don’t respond well to other remedies. In 2018, the drug Epidiolex was approved by the FDA in the United States as the cannabidiol treatment for epilepsy associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet Syndrome in patients aged two and above. Epidiolex has purified cannabidiol that contains no THC.

Other health conditions which studies have promising results of CBD treating or helping in include chronic pain, cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression, skin conditions, addiction, and others.

 

How Is THC Used In The Medical Sector?

The only known approved drug that contains THC as an active ingredient is Nabiximols, known as Sativex in Canada and the USA as a prescription drug. In 2010, Nabiximols was approved in the United Kingdom as a botanical drug to use as a mouth spray for people with multiple sclerosis to relieve neuropathic pain, overactive bladder, spasticity and other symptoms.

Studies are being done to find other uses of THC in medication. Some of the researches show that this cannabinoid has potential to help with patients with nausea and vomiting. The antiemetic properties of THC may also be helpful in those undergoing treatments that have nausea as a side effect such as chemotherapy.

Another study revealed that THC could be used to alleviate inflammation, and muscle control issues, although more evidence is needed to help with the approval of THC as a safe, effective medication for the mentioned conditions. There are certain FDA approved drugs that have a structure as that of THC like Marinol and Cesamet. This, as well as more research on tetrahydrocannabinol, has led to a lot of hope that THC might also be approved for a range of medical applications.

Research done found that cannabis reduces pain related to cancer and minimises the use of opioids for pain relief by cancer patients. Nevertheless, cannabis use is mostly illegal and never focuses on the use of certain cannabinoids. Still, there are active studies looking to find if marijuana extracts can target and kill cancer cells. There are reports of patients who have permits allowing them to consume marijuana for medical purposes.

It is worth knowing that medical marijuana is very real and is happening around the world where the plant is recommended as a herbal therapy by a physician.

Currently, just a few governments have approved the use of medical marijuana. The limited yet significant territories where medical marijuana is legal include Canada, many USA states, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Spain. As the years go by, more governments may approve the use of medicinal marijuana. One can possibly predict the future of marijuana use, considering the success of the clinical studies done to determine its effectiveness in treating a range of health conditions. Experts will possibly even come up with safer and more effective ways of taking marijuana as a medical drug.

It is important to know that the common cannabinoids of marijuana that offer medical benefits, CBD and THC come with certain benefits and side effects to the users. As per the research conducted, CBD offers more health benefits and fewer side effects, which are temporary. Intake of THC, on the other hand, has led to a number of temporary side effects experienced by users. 

Some of these drawbacks include dry mouth, Bloodshot eyes, memory loss, coordination problems, reduced reaction times, increased heart rate. You could suffer long-term psychiatric disorders if you consume THC in large amounts. Teenagers are more prone to THC side effects, which can lead to schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

 

What Is The Spiritual Use Of Marijuana?

Marijuana has been used in various religious where it has held a sacred status. In certain practices of various religions, cannabis has been used as an entheogen, a chemical substance utilised in shamanic and other spiritual contexts. Nowadays, the Rastafarian disciples spiritually use marijuana and also spread about its use as a sacrament as well as help in meditation. There is also proof of marijuana being used spiritually in the Indian subcontinent from as early as 2000 to 1400 BCE in the scripture of Atharva Veda.

 

What Do I Need To Know About Marijuana And Its Legality In The UK?

So far, cannabis is illegal for recreational use in the United Kingdom. It is against the law to grow, distribute or sell marijuana in the United Kingdom. Being a class B drug, the unlawful involvement with cannabis attracts a penalty of up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine. You might be unlucky and get slapped with both for unlicensed production and trafficking of marijuana. Possession of marijuana attracts an unlimited fine and prison time of a maximum of five years.

Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is allowed if it is prescribed by a registered specialist doctor as of November 2018. The legalisation of the medical use of marijuana came into effect following the cases of the two epileptic children Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, who benefited from the cannabis use that increased public attention to the matter. 

The epileptic children whose conditions had significantly improved after starting to use cannabis were denied the drug under previous UK law. Billy Caldwell was hospitalised with life-threatening seizures after discontinuing his medication which was confiscated by authority, an issue that led to heightened public outcry. There were interesting stories about these patients that were published later.

Prior to that, in June 2018, Jeremy Hunt, who was Health Secretary, then had announced his support for medical use of marijuana, promising a review would be taken to determine changes to the regulations. Later that June, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the legalisation of cannabis products for patients with an “exceptional clinical need” and the product would be moved to a Schedule 2 classification from Schedule 1. 

These efforts too contributed to the legalisation of medical marijuana in the UK. On October 11, the House was officially presented with the new provision which it accepted and leading to the policy that came into effect on. November 1 2018. As per the law, only a specialist consultant can provide a prescription for medical marijuana and not the GPs. NHS insists that medical derived medicines should only be prescribed if clear published evidence of the medicine’s benefits is available, with other treatment options being exhausted.

 

What Do I Need To Know About Medical Marijuana Legalisation In The UK?

The only approved cannabis-derived drug in the UK currently is Sativex. Sativex is used for treating the spasticity occurring in multiple sclerosis.

Even though Nabilone is approved by the MHRA, it is not naturally obtained from the marijuana plant but a synthetic form of THC. Nabilone is prescribed to treat nausea and vomiting coming from treatments procedures like cytotoxic chemotherapy.

The UK is the largest exporter of legal cannabis and is also home to one of the largest producers of medical cannabis in the world, GW Pharmaceuticals. This is the company that invented Sativex and Epidiolex; the cannabis-derived drugs approved in global markets. 

The irony of all this is that there is limited availability of medical marijuana in the UK, probably because if the regulations. One can get a license to import prescribed medicinal marijuana from the home office, but almost no one has been able to access medical marijuana as of Mid-February 2019.

Did you know CBD oil, the cannabinoid with a number of proved and purported benefits is legal for sale and use in the United Kingdom? You also wouldn’t need a doctor’s prescription so long as the product you are selling, buying, or using doesn’t contain THC at a percentage over 0.2.

 

What Are The Forms In Which Marijuana Is Consumed?

Smoking: This is possibly the most common way in which cannabis is taken. This form involves burning, followed by inhaling the smoke of the vaporised cannabinoids from paper-wrapped joints, tobacco-leaf-wrapped blunts, small pipes, bongs (similar to hookahs) and other items.

Vaporised: Includes heating marijuana to 165-190 °C, therefore, evaporating the active ingredients, including THC whose boiling point at atmospheric pressure is 157 °C and inhaling. The user then inhales the vapour.

Edibles: This form has marijuana added as an ingredient to one of a variety of foods, especially baked goods such as cookies as well as butter. Edibles are quite common.

Capsules: These commonly contain cannabis oil and other dietary supplements. Many of these were approved in Canada in 2018.

Cannabis tea: This consists of considerably small concentrations of THC due to tetrahydrocannabinol being just partially soluble in water.

 

What Are The Common Cannabis Preparations?

Dried flower buds: This form widely consumed form is also known as herbal cannabis or marijuana and consist dried flowers and fruits as well as leaves and stems of the female plant. Herbal cannabis contains concentrations of THC of between 3% and 20% with reports of some products containing up to 33% THC. People use Marijuana as the stock material to prepare all the other forms.

While we are at herbal cannabis, it would be ideal to differentiate it from industrial hemp. The two are derived from the same plant species but are different and are used for varying purposes. Hemp is low in THC and high in CBD, therefore has fewer psychoactive effects.

Keif: From the Arabic word “kif” which means pleasure, comes the name of this preparation which is in powder form that is sifted from the marijuana plant leaves, flowers and fruits. The powder is rich in trichomes and can be consumed as such or compressed to produce cakes called hashish.

Hashish: This concentrated resin cake of ball as aforementioned can be made from compressed kief. The detached trichomes and fine materials that fall off cannabis leaves, flowers and fruits as well as resin scrapped from the plant’s surface can be rolled to balls to form hashish. Hashish has colours between golden brown to black depending on a cultivar. Users can eat, smoke, or vape hashish.

Tincture: Cannabinoids present in marijuana can be extracted using high-proof spirits (usually grain alcohol) to create a tincture, called “green dragon”. The Nabiximols mentioned earlier is a product in tincture form.

Hash Oil: This form is a resinous matrix of cannabinoids derived from cannabis by solvent extraction and made into a hardened or viscous mass. Hash oil is the most effective since it contains the highest level of the psychoactive compound in cannabis per its volume.

Infusions: Nonviolent solvents are used to form many varieties of marijuana infusions. By mixing the drug with a solvent and pressing and filtering, one can express oils of the cannabis into the solvent. Excellent solvents used include dairy butter, cooking oil, cocoa butter, glycerine, and skin moisturisers. From there, the user can consume orally or apply topically.

 

Are There Any Adverse Effects Of Marijuana?

Short term, some of the acute effects of cannabis include:

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Impaired memory and attention
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Increased risk of psychotic symptoms

 

Long term, adverse effects usually come from heavy, long-term use of marijuana, which leads to consequences. These may include:

  • Biologically-based physical, mental, behavioural and social health issues
  • Diseases of the liver, heart and lungs
  • Increased risk of depression, inattention and hyperactivity in children born of mothers who use
  • Increased risk of respiratory diseases and cancer in those who smoke marijuana
  • Increased risk of psychosis
  • Risk of becoming dependent

 

There are studies done to find out the long-term effects of marijuana in the neuroimaging, cognition and psychiatric departments. Evidence has been found that cannabis can cause problems to some users, including suicidal behaviour, mental illness, sleep disorders, dysphoria, irritability, craving and withdrawal effects.

One review in 2015 found that consumption of high CBD-to-THC lower risk of psychosis development leads to better cognitive function and other positive effects in comparison to CBD-to-THC ratios. You’ll need a specialist to help get the ideal products.

 

Why Do People Refer To Marijuana As A Gateway Drug?

People usually consider cannabis a gateway drug since its use increases the possibility of trying “harder” drugs. This is from the very debated Gateway Hypothesis. 

Some studies find no evidence supporting the Gateway Hypothesis. Some experts relate the gateway effect to social factors surrounding the use of all illegal drugs. It is possible those trying and using marijuana end up meeting other users and sellers of other illegal drugs, considering the situations created by the illegality of these substances.

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