Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States and Europe, and tends to be the first il- legal drug that teens use. In the United States, it is estimated, conservatively, that more than 5.5 million adults smoke the drug weekly. Although Cannabis sativa, or marijuana, has been in use for at least 4,000 years, the principal psychoactive ingredient of the marijuana plant: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta-9-THC is the substance in the plant that produces the “high,” the feeling of intoxication, that users crave. The marijuana plant contains more than 400 chemical compounds, of which 60 are cannabinoids—psychoactive compounds that can be extracted from the cannabis plant, or produced within the body after ingestion and metabolism of cannabis. Scientists analyze the ramifications of some of the most important scientific discoveries about marijuana and its negative impact on the brain. Marijuana can also cause damage to the lungs and the reproductive system, but that will not be reviewed here. Naturally, the brain is part of, and absolutely dependent on, the functioning of the rest of the organs of the body, for example, for its glucose and oxygen supply. But the brain is in charge of the body; it is the physical substratum of the intelligence, memory, will, and emotion. The human species alone can bring to bear its brain its intelligence to change the world around it for better or worse. Delta-9-THC is found in the resin located mostly in the flowering tops of the plant, with a smaller amount in the leaves, and the least amount in the fibrous stalks. As a result, the psychoactive potency of a cannabis preparation varies enormously, depending on which part of the plant was used to make it. The most powerful form is from the pure resin removed from the leaves and stems; this is known as hashish. Its concentration of delta-9-THC is about 8 to 14 percent. Next in potency is ganja, which is very commonly smoked in the whole world. Ganja is made up of dried plant material taken only from the tops of unpollinated female plants. Known as sinsemilla, this version of marijuana has a THC content of from 4 to 8 percent.
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