From the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The plant contains the mind-altering chemical THC and other similar compounds. Extracts can also be made from the cannabis plant (see “Marijuana Extracts“).
Marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States, after alcohol.1 Its use is widespread among young people. In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in the past year.1 According to the Monitoring the Future survey, rates of past year marijuana use among middle and high school students have remained steady, but the number of teens in 8th and 10th grades who say they use it daily has increased. With the growing popularity of vaping devices, teens have started vaping THC (the ingredient in marijuana that produces the high), with nearly 4% of 12th graders saying they vape THC daily. In addition, the number of young people who believe regular marijuana use is risky is decreasing.2
Elizabeth Stuyt, MD
Advocates for the legalization of medical and retail marijuana are quick to point out all the possible benefits that a community might see from such a venture. These include increased jobs, increased tax revenue, possible medical benefits and they advertise it as “safe” and “healthy” and “organic.” They utilize the words “cannabis” and “marijuana” for everything without differentiating between the different forms of cannabis that can have very different effects on the mind and body.
Many people who have voted for legalization thought they were talking about the marijuana of the 1960s to 1980s when the THC content was less than 2%. However, without any clear guidelines or regulations from government officials, the cannabis industry has taken a page from the tobacco and alcohol industries’ play book and developed strains of marijuana and concentrated marijuana products with much higher concentrations of THC, the psychoactive component that causes addiction. The more potent a drug is, the stronger the possibility of addiction and the more likely the person will continue to purchase and use the product.