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Marijuana Essay, Research Paper

The third largest agricultural good in the nation and a ten billion-dollar industry has nothing to do with the agriculture we are use to. This good is Marijuana, an illegal drug. It is “the most widely used illicit drug in America” n(Gold v). In Florida alone, marijuana sales are greater than all businesses except tourism (Gold v). What is marijuana? Marijuana, a plant, known as Cannabis Sativa, labeled that by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753 (Grinspoon 1), is “one of nature’s hardiest specimens” (Abel ix). It can survive in any climatic condition possible, and flourishes like weeds do. Marijuana acts like a weed, stealing all the sunlight and nutrients around it. The soil needed for growing marijuana for its intoxicant, is dry thin soil, along with horse or cow manure (Grinspoon 40). It can grow to be from three to twenty feet at maturity (Abel ix), and grows at a rapid speed. Germination of the plants occurs simultaneously. Life shows six days after planting, and after two weeks, strong healthy leaves should have grown (Grinspoon 40). The marijuana plant is dioecious, which means that it grows separate male and female plants. The male plant is usually taller than the female plant, and dies after its flowering cycle (Abel 4). The female plant is bushier and “secretes a resin that covers the flowering tops and nearby leaves” (Abel 5). This resin is secreted by glandular hairs that are found on the leaves and is used to protect the marijuana plant from water loss (Gold x). These leaves and tops are cultivated to be sold. Those leaves are then dried and rolled in cigarette paper and smoked. From smoking marijuana, an euphoric sense is produced. This os the high that draws people to smoke marijuana. They fall into a languid state, and time slows down for them. The psychoactive compound that creates this euphoric sense is delta-9-THC. Marijuana’s potency varies. In the female plants’ flowers is the greater concentration of cannabinoids, related compounds to delta-9-THC (Abel 5). Sinsemilla, a seedless version of marijuana, that has been cultivated in recent years, has much higher concentrations of THC throughout the plant (Abel 5). The amount of THC that is present depends on the conditions the plant is raised in (Gold 261). Cannabis that is grown in temperate climates contains little delta-9-THC and a high concentration of cannabidiol. Cannabis grown in hot climates has a greater delta-9-THC concentration and barely any cannabidiol. It is these plants that are grown in the hotter climates that are cultivated for their psychoactive effects. Marijuana contains almost 30% THC; however, 50% of that is destroyed when it is burned, such as when it is smoked (Gold261). The smallest amount of THC that produces a “high” is 5 mg, but since 50% is destroyed, it is really 2.5 mg (Gold 262). The effects, of marijuana, can be felt in five to fifteen minutes, and the maximum effects are felt in sixty minutes. Marijuana, when smoked, creates a hallucinating effect. Its psychological effects are: excitement and dissociation of ideas, enhancement of the senses, distortions of time and space, delusional thinking, impulsiveness, illusions, and hallucinations-are accompanied by objective behavioral performance changes, including a deterioration of psychomotor performance, diminished attention span and memory, and reduced physical strength (Abel 44). It also affects motor skills, such as impairing the skills needed for driving safely, “coordination, tracking, perception and vigilance” (Abel 46). Marijuana’s effect on attention is studied using cognitive tests. Some of the effects caused include “confusion, loss of directedness, and the ability to simultaneously remember information” (Abel 46). The effects of marijuana can differ depending on the actual amount of THC that is ingested by smoking. This “depends on a number of factors: (1) the speed at which it is smoked, (2) puff duration, (3) volume inhaled, and (4) the amount of time the user withholds expiration after inhalation” (Gold 40). Marijuana may not be lethal, but despite this, it still causes many medical problems, such as respiratory ailments, impaired immunity, and reproductive disturbances. One main respiratory ailment is lung damage. From smoking cannabis, bronchitis, emphysema and lung damage can be formed (Gold 266). Another area that marijuana affects is the cardiovascular system, it increases the heart rate. It also affects the reproductive system. In the male reproductive system, marijuana decreases testosterone production and limits the reproductive function. Women who smoke marijuana have shorter menstrual cycles, and one study has shown impaired fertility (Abel 71). Marijuana causes many medical problems for people, yet it is not a deadly drug, and can become addictive. There are many withdrawal programs for these people to help detoxicate themselves. It can cause some irreparable damage, but stopping is better than continuing to smoke and causing them even more damage. Marijuana is an illegal drug and shouldn’t even be sold, let alone smoked. Yet, many people smoke marijuana to “forget” their troubles, instead, they are causing more troubles than they have. In today’s society though, the future of marijuana seems to be that of “decriminalization and eventual legalization, subject, no doubt, to the same regulatory measures as those that apply to alcohol” (Gold 271). We have already seen marijuana legalized in California. A tiny amount is legal to be possessed. Also, marijuana is used legally for medical reasons. Marijuana has been in our lives for a long time, and it is here to stay, this time around, maybe legally.


Abel, Ernest L. Marihuana The First Twelve Thousand Years. Plenum Press: New York, 1980.

Gold, Mark S. M.D. Marijuana. Plenum Publishing Corporation: New York, 1989

Grinspoon, Lester M.D. Marihuana Reconsidered. Harvard University Press: Massachusetts, 1971.

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