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Monday, May 11, 2009

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            Marijuana is the most popular illicit drug in the world, with twenty five million users in the United States alone. An estimated 31.7% of 12th graders had used it in within one year of being surveyed as of 2006. The reasons for this are rather simple. The active chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has no known level of lethal toxicity. Essentially, this means you can’t overdose on marijuana. Also, it is incredibly easy to get a hold of in the majority of U.S. high schools.

            Marijuana has quite a few slang names. These include pot, grass, weed, green, ganja, mary-jane, chronic, hydro, nug, and bud. It doesn’t fall easily into any single classification, but it is most commonly known as a depressant. It is a schedule I drug, meaning that it has high potential for abuse, no recognized medical use, and is relatively unsafe. However, this information is debatable. In fact, 12 states have already passed medical marijuana laws, allowing licensed patients to purchase or grow their own pot.

            There are technically three scientific names for marijuana, corresponding to the three plant species of pot. These are cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis ruderalis, however, is not psychoactive, and is known most commonly as industrial hemp. This means that it won’t actually get you high, although it is used to make paper, oil, food, clothing, and many other products. It got grouped with the other two species when they were made illegal in 1937 though, so in the U.S. it cannot be farmed.

            Psychoactive cannabis is thought to have been used as far back as 10,000 years ago. Early people most likely didn’t use it recreationally though, instead using it as treatment for various medical conditions, ranging from headache to impotence.  

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