Marijuana is the common name given to any sort of drug preparation from the hemp plant, called Cannabis Sativa.  Different forms of this drug are known by different names throughout the world, such as kif in Morocco, dagga in South Africa, and ganja in India. In Western culture, cannabis has picked up many other terms. These include weed, grass, pot, tea, reefer, and Mary Jane. Cannabis can be smoked, eaten in cakes and other pastries, and drank in beverages. In Western cultures, marijuana is used most often as a tobacco like mixture that is smoked in a pipe or rolled into a marijuana cigarette. Marijuana is one of the oldest known drugs, it was acknowledged as early as 2700 BC, in a Chinese manuscript. Throughout the centuries it has been used both medicinally, and as an intoxicant, or to get high. The major psychoactive component of this drug, however, was not identified until the mid-1960s. An ingredient called tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, comes from the flowering tops or leaves of the plants. Though this is often misconceived as marijuana, which is the whole plant. Marijuana has a few effects on the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. These effects are primarily sedative and hallucinogenic. Low doses psychologically produce a sense of well-being, relaxation, and sleepiness. Higher doses cause mild sensory distortions, altered time sense, balance, and difficulty concentrating or finding motivation. Even higher doses can result in feelings of depersonalization, severe anxiety and panic, and a toxic psychosis, along with hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Physiologically, the heart rate increase, and blood vessels of the eye dilate, which causes reddening. A feeling of tightness in the chest and a lack of coordination may occur. Research suggests that marijuana smoke may have a long-term, harmful effect on the lungs, though this is not, entirely, proven to be true.The use of weed to get high in North America became prominent in the 1930s. In Canada, as well in the U.S., regulatory laws were passed in 1937, and criminal penalties were instituted for possession and sale of weed. In 1968 the possession and sale of THC, was restricted to research only. Despite these acts to stop it, marijuana continued to be widely used for decades as various groups tried to legalize possession. A survey in the late 1970s showed that at least 43 million Americans had tried the drug. In the 1980s, however, surveys of high school and college students showed that marijuana use was slowly but steadily declining. The number of high school seniors for example, who had tried the drug decreased from 50.8 percent in 1979 to 33.1 percent in 1989. The steady decline did not last for long. Use of marijuana in the North America began to increase, accounting for 25 percent of the U.S. domestic market by 1990. Not to mention new growing practices have increased the potency of  marijuana by more than 5X the original amount, causing concern among drug-abuse experts about the effects from higher THC doses. Medically, marijuana and THC preparations are sometimes used to treat glaucoma, because they help to reduce pressure within the eye. In 1985 the Food and Drug Administration also approved the use of synthetic weed, called dronabinol, for treating nausea that can follow chemotherapy in a cancer patient. It acts by binding to the opiate receptors of the medulla in the brain. At least twelve more states are considering marijuana legalization this year,  giving 2018 the most possible change in legalization since the idea came about. Some states are even preparing to take unprecedented legislative steps to make marijuana, either recreational or medical, legal and more easily accessible. With legalization in these twelve states including Missouri, we would have a total of forty one states, legalizing the plant. “With over 60 percent of Americans now supporting the full legalization of marijuana for adults, the momentum behind marijuana law reform will not only continue but increase as we head into 2018,” says the executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.Marijuana has changed today’s society in both useful, and harmful ways. It can be used for medicinal purposes. Or, it can be used for recreational purposes, just to get high, which can lead to  violence, crime, and depression. Either way you look at it, marijuana usage, whether liked or not, is rapidly increasing. Studies show that it will continue to increase in years to come, in not only the U.S., but other countries, including places in Asia and Europe.

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