Marijuana (THC)

What is it?

Marijuana and hash, an often associated drug, are both considered mind-altering drugs.[2] These drugs affect mood, perception, and behavior. [2] Both marijuana and hash contain a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and come from the plant Cannabis Sativa. [2][3] When compared to hash, marijuana has a lower concentration of THC.[2] Marijuana is the dried plant material whereas hash comes from the plants’ trichomes, or the sticky hairs on the plant.[2][3]

THC’s chemical structure is similar to brain chemicals, such as anandamide, which act on cannabinoid receptors.[3] These receptors influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordination.[3] When there is an increase of THC in the system, these receptors are overloaded which is why there is a “high”.[3] However, this high imbalances the system, which is the reason for the symptoms listed below.[3]

When young people use THC containing compounds, it can affect brain development so that the short term effects become permanent.[3] Studies have shown that adolescence usage decreases IQ by an average of 8 points, and many abilities that were lost didn’t return, even when they quit.[3]

Common names include:

  • Weed
  • Dank
  • Pot
  • Dope
  • Mary Jane


What are the health risks?

Short Term Symptoms

  • Dilated pupils
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Dizzy and uncoordinated
  • Hunger (“the munchies”)
  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia [1]
  • Increased heart rate
  • Impaired perception
  • Dry mouth
  • Hallucinations/delusions [2]

Long Term Effects

  • Diminished short-term memory
  • Lowered problem-solving and learning capabilities
  • Mood swings
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities and grooming [1]
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Damage to respiratory, immune, and reproductive systems
  • Increased risk of lung infection [2]

How is it used?

Both hash and marijuana can be smoked or ingested, by baking it into foods for instance.[2] Ingesting marijuana or hash makes the short term effects come on slower, but last longer.[2] Smoking requires paraphernalia such as bongs, pipes, or papers used to roll cigarettes.[2]