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Marijuana comes from a plant whose scientific name is Cannabis sativa. The most active chemical in the cannabis plant is tetrahydrocannabinol, usually shortened to the abbreviation THC. It is this chemical that causing the mind-altering properties that makes marijuana use so prevalent. THC causes an increased sense of relaxation while at the same time producing a heightening of the senses. Marijuana is usually smoked, although it can be mixed with food or brewed into a tea.

Probably everyone has heard anecdotes that involved marijuana being baked into cookies or brownies and served to unsuspecting guests. Many times these situations are presented in a comedic light; however, there is nothing funny about allowing anyone to unknowingly ingest any form of drug.

Some people do not view marijuana as a dangerous drug. They may feel that it is not addictive, and that using it causes no long-term damage. The facts reveal otherwise. Even a small amount of marijuana can cause attention deficit and affect coordination. In addition, the mind does not process information as well as it would if marijuana were not being smoked.

It is for these reasons that marijuana use can and has caused automobile and/or household accidents, and workplace injuries. These incidents not only affect the person who has used marijuana, but may also involve others around him. In higher amounts, marijuana can cause a person to see images in a distorted way. Something may appear closer or further away than it actually is, which can also cause accidents or injury.

Marijuana can also cause someone to hallucinate; that is, to see things that aren't there. Also, when under the influence of marijuana, a person just simply does not act the way he normally would. One thing about marijuana abuse that many people don't realize or don't think about is the fact that because marijuana is dried until it resembles a tobacco product, then smoked, just like a cigarette or cigar, it can cause the same respiratory conditions that "real" tobacco can. Marijuana users are at risk of developing respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. The cancer can not only affect the lungs, but also the head, neck, and mouth.

Whether or not marijuana is addictive is really a moot point. What should be considered is that marijuana is dangerous in its own right, and can cause dangerous situations. For this reason, our staffers monitoring our 24-hour marijuana hotline only want to provide information on where to get help for marijuana use, not opinions or judgment.

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