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Alcohol and Substance Abuse - Cannabinols

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Member Drugs: (Brand Names) [Street Names]

  • Marijuana (Marinol) [Pot, Grass, Weed, Brick, Joint, Thai Stick, Mary Jane]
  • Hashish [Hash, Ganja, Rope]

What The Drugs Looks Like:

  • Marijuana typically comes in the form of the partially dried leaves, buds, stems and seeds of the Marijuana plant.
  • Marijuana may be mixed with other chemicals/drugs such as cocaine, heroin, PCP and hallucinogens
  • Hashish is the prepared sap of the Marijuana plant, and typically is sold as a black or brown wax-like substance

Most Typical Routes Of Administration:

  • Lungs (inhaling pipe smoke)
  • Oral (eaten)

What This Drug Does:

  • Short term effects:
    • At low to moderate doses, it usually causes a feeling of general well being and relaxation.
    • At very high doses, it can cause the user to experience distortion of reality.
    • Users report seeing things more clearly, feeling more relaxed, seeing objects more sharply, seeing new colors or new shades of colors.
    • Some other common effects are mental confusion and distortion of perception and thinking
    • Lack of concentration, decreased attention span, difficulty in forming ideas and completing thoughts.
    • The ability to judge the passage of time is also affected. Users report that time seems to pass more slowly.
    • Interferes with intellectual performance
    • Impairs thinking, reading comprehension, and motor coordination.
    Long term effects:
    • Marijuana has many chemicals which are similar to tobacco tars. It also contains about 50 per cent more cancer causing substances than regular cigarette tobacco.
    • Because marijuana smoke is inhaled so deeply and held in the lungs for a long period of time, pot smokers are at risk of not only cancer, but also bronchitis and lung infection.
    • Many people who use cannabis heavily for a long time have problems with short-term memory, concentration and abstract thinking. Most of these problems disappear after a few weeks without drugs, but some last for years.
    • Heavy marijuana use can lead to anxiety, personality disturbances and depression
    • Amotivational Syndrome is the name given to a set of personality changes which is experienced by some long term, heavy marijuana smokers. Users appear less active and ambitious than other people. They seem unconcerned about the future and unwilling or unable to make long-term plans.

Pattern of Withdrawal Symptoms:

Chronic users may experience the following when they stop using Marijuana:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • physical tension
  • decreased appetite
  • Depressed mood

Most Significant Problems:

  • Overdose is typically not a concern
  • May contribute to flashbacks during withdrawal and afterwards
  • May cause and contribute to depression and anxiety.

How Tested For:

  • Blood Test (remains positive for 5+ days after last dose, 21+ days for heavy users)