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Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant, which is known as cannabis sativa. The dried leaves and flowers of the plant are known as marijuana, which can be smoked through a pipe or a bong, hand-rolled into a joint or taken orally with food (baked in cookies, for example).Marijuana plants produce chemical compounds called cannabinoids. The ones that get the most attention are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the most psychoactive compound, so when an individual smokes cannabis, this compound gives them the high feeling that is commonly recognized in today’s society. The more THC that is intaked, the more powerful the high. As well, there is a wide range of THC potency between cannabis products.Other names and/or street names for Cannabis include marijuana, grass, pot, dope, Mary Jane, hooch, weed, hash, joints, brew, reefers, cones, smoke, mull, buddha, ganga, hydro, yarndi, heads and green.Marijuana has been used as an agent for achieving euphoria since ancient times; it was described in a Chinese medical reference traditionally considered to date from 2737 B.C. Its use spread from China to India and then to Africa, reaching Europe as early as 500 A.D.Cannabis is the most commonly used as an  illegal drug in Canada. However, most cannabis use is infrequent and experimental. Unless those that smoke the drug have a medical exemption, it is illegal to grow, possess or sell the substance.Illegal cannabis products are not subject to any health and safety standards, and may be contaminated with other drugs, pesticides or toxic fungi. Also, a 2009 study reported that 42 percent of Ontarians over the age of 18 had used cannabis at some point in their life, and 12 per cent had done so in the past year.Those that use cannabis can have very different experiences with the drug. Some may feel relaxed, lively, talkative and giggly, while others may feel tense, anxious, fearful and confused. This is also an indication that the kind of experience a person has can vary from one drug-taking episode to another. People who are familiar with the drug learn to stop when they have had enough, and have more control of the effects, while others that are new to the drug experience adverse effects.At low doses, cannabis mildly distorts the perception and the senses of its users. Individuals who use the drug say that it makes music sound better, colours appear brighter and moments seem longer. They say that it enhances taste, touch and smell and makes them feel more aware of their body. Some enjoy these effects, but others find them uncomfortable. In addition to this, smoking greater amounts of the substance may intensify some of these desired impacts, but is also more likely to produce an unpleasant reaction. Too high of a dose may result in feelings of users losing control, and experiencing  confusion, agitation, paranoia and panic. Pseudo Hallucinations, seeing things such as pattern and colour that you know are not real, or true hallucinations, where one loses touch with reality, can occur as well. The physical effects of cannabis include developing red eyes, dry mouth and throat, having an irritated respiratory system, from smoking, and bronchodilation, which is the expansion of breathing passages. An individual’s appetite and heart rate may increase, as well, while blood pressure, balance and stability can begin to decrease. Cannabis may cause drowsiness or restlessness, depending on the amount taken and individual responses to the drug.Is cannabis dangerous? Yes. This is because the drug has the impact of impairing one’s depth perception, attention span and concentration, slowing an individual’s reaction time, and decreases muscle strength and hand steadiness—all of which may affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Additionally, when Cannabis and alcohol are taken together, the substances intensify each other’s effects and can cause severe impairment. Also, cannabis intoxication affects thinking and short-term memory. Using the drug while at school or work may interfere with one’s learning or work performance.Some more effects of cannabis are: breathing problems, undergoing an increased heart rate, problems with child development during and after pregnancy and intense nausea and vomiting.Long-term marijuana use has been linked to affecting the mental illness of such users. This can be developing temporary hallucinations and paranoia, and even worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia—a severe mental disorder with symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and disorganized thinking.Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. However, study findings have been mixed, which implies that the potential health consequences of this drug should be further researched.

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