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Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa).Cannabis is a term that refers to marijuana and other drugs made from the same plant. Other forms of cannabis include sinsemilla, hashish,and hash oil. All forms of cannabis are mind altering (psychoactive) drugs.

The main active chemical in is THC (delta-9-tetrahdrocannbinol). Short term effects of cannabis use include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, loss of coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety.

It is usually smoked as a cigarette (called a joint) or in a pipe or bong. Cannabis has also appeared in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with cannabis, sometimes in combination with another drug, such as crack. It can also be mixed into foods or used to brew tea.

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In recent decades, cannabis growers have been genetically altering their plants to increase the percentage of (delta-9-tetrahydocannabinol) THC.The main active ingredient in marijuana, the average potency has more than doubled since 1998.

The use of cannabis can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral effects. It can impair short term memory and judgment and distort perception. Because cannabis affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, its use by teens may have a negative effect on their development

Contrary to popular belief, cannabis can be addictive. Marijuana is also linked to a withdrawal syndrome similar to that of nicotine withdrawal, which can make it hard to quit. People trying to quit report irritability, sleeping difficulties, craving and anxiety. They also show increased aggression.

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Cannabis is widely available, in part as a result of the rising production in Mexico, the amount of cannabis produced in Mexico has increased 59% overall since 2003

Cannabis is produced in the United States by various groups, including Caucasian, Asian and Mexican groups, but Caucasian independents and criminal groups are well established in every region of the country and very likely produce the most cannabis domestically overall.

Eradication data and law enforcement reporting indicate that the amount of cannabis produced in the United States appears to be very high, based in part on the continual increases in the number of plants eradicated nationally. Eradication of plants from both indoor and outdoor sites has more than doubled since 2004.

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A Letter to Parents

Following a troubling increase in cannabis abuse in the 1990s among U.S. teens, recent findings have shown more encouraging trends. For example, past-year use has fallen significantly among students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades since 2001: it has dropped by 24 percent among 8th-graders, 23 percent among 10th-graders, and 15 percent among 12th-graders. Perceived risk of harm from smoking marijuana regularly remained stable for all three grades from 2005 to 2006, and perceived availability of cannabis fell significantly among 10th-graders, from 72.6 percent in 2005 to 70.7 percent in 2006.

Even with these encouraging trends, cannabis is still the illegal drug most often abused in the United States. Its continued high prevalence rate, particularly among teens, indicates that we still have a long way to go. In addition, because many parents of present-day teens used cannabis when they were in college, they often find it difficult to talk about cannabis with their children and to set strict ground rules against it. This conversation must begin early, as cannabis use today often starts at a young age—with more potent forms of the drug now available to these children and adolescents. Parents need to recognize that cannabis use is a serious threat, and they need to tell their children not to use it.

We at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) are pleased to offer these two short booklets, Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know and Cannabis: Facts for Teens, for parents and their children to review the scientific facts about marijuana. Although it is best to talk about drugs when children are young, it is never too late to talk about the dangers of drug use.

Talking to our children about drug abuse is not always easy, but it is very important. I hope these booklets can help.

Nora D. Volkow, M.D.Director National Institute on Drug Abuse


Cannabis is a scheduled I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Schedule I drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substances under medical supervision

In the case of United States v. Oakland Cannabis Club, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cannabis has no medical value determined by Congress. The opinion of the court stated that: "In the case of the Controlled Substances Act, the statute reflects a determination that cannabis has no medical benefit worthy of an exception outside the confines of a government-approved research-project." The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court after the federal government sought an injunction in 1998 against the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative and five other cannabis distributors in California.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling on May 24 2002, upholding DEA's determination that cannabis must remain a Schedule I controlled substance. The Court of Appeals rejected an appeal that contended that cannabis does not meet the legal criteria for classification in Schedule I, the most restrictive schedule under the Controlled Substances Act.

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