Marijuana and the Teenage Brain

Most people have heard that hemp and marijuana are the same. After all, people have been using hemp for at least 2,500 years to make rope, shoes, clothes and even paper. It is still being cultivated, primarily in China, and they export hemp to the U.S. and other countries. It is undeniably a very useful plant. 1

Marijuana, Hemp and Potency

However, saying that hemp and marijuana are the same is like saying that a housecat is the same as a tiger. Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of Cannabis sativa.2 Modern marijuana is not even the same as the marijuana grown in the past. Today's marijuana is up to ten times more potent than the joints they passed around at Woodstock. Some users in the Netherlands smoke a variety that is THIRTY-THREE times more potent. 3 That ain't your grandpa's weed. As is true of other illegal drugs, users can never be sure exactly what they are buying on the street when they buy marijuana. The NIH reports that the long-term consequences of smoking more potent marijuana are unknown. 4

How Does Marijuana Make People Feel 'High'?

THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary active ingredient, the reason people smoke pot. Marijuana's effect on the brain is felt very rapidly and lasts up to three hours. If marijuana is consumed in food or a beverage, the effects are not felt for up to an hour but remain for up to four hours. THC attaches itself to cannabinoid receptors (CBRs); these are receptors in the brain linked to pleasure and tactile sensations, memory, and concentration, coordination, and time perception. In other words, the overstimulation causes users to feel 'high'.

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