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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)


Reader Comments

Some minor corrections on the mentioned cannabis preparations - Hoverfly - Dec 18th 2011

I would like to point of a couple of factual errors about the preparations in which cannabis comes to the end user.

1. Cannabis seeds do not contain any pyschoactive substances worth mentioning. You would have to consume, by smoking o ingesting such huge quantities it is hard to figure out why someone would gouge themselves on several kilos of cannabis seed.

2. Cannabis leaves are not usually considered a worth while smoke. That being said, the tiny leaves surrounding the actual flowering head of the plant my have some trichomes dropped on them, rendering them slightly more potent but in general, if you were given/sold leaves, you have been ripped off.

3. Hashish is not dried plant sap from the cannabis indica plant, that is pure nonsense. Hash is produced by placing the heads of the plant into a frame with two sheets of extremely fine mash cotton or any other cloth with gaps of less then 50 microns and subsequently beaten with sticks to loosen the trichomes (small globules of THC containing resin) that are most prominently located on the flowering heads of cannabis indica.

Unfortunately, such fundamental factual errors do little to inspire much confidence in any drug related publication, such as this one.

my name is linked to this issue in brower - Randa P - Jun 21st 2010

What a surprise to find myself on line in a brower quest under my name randa p.  I don't think I realized the whole world would be told so easily about my personal quests.  I am not ashamed of my life, but know that many with no knowledge of addiction or abuse would be very ready to profile me as a loser.  Please let Dan know that I am happy he is alive.  I live at the gold coast aptmts in el cajon.

Addictions - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Aug 4th 2009

Carole, you are going to have to make a hard choice if you have any hope of saving your self. As to what will save you son, that will be up to him. Here is what I mean:

Your son is addicted to drugs, has ADHD and is dangerously out of control so that even you fear him. To help your self and possibly your son, the next time he causes you to feel threatened you must call 911 and have him taken away.

I know how difficult it is for a mother to do this but having him arrested may be the final and only way to get through to  him.

In addition, you must make it lucidly clear to him that he is not welcome anywhere near you. You can take out a restraining order against him and have him arrested if he violates that order. Only when he comes under the auspices of the courts will there be any hope of getting him to change. In the mean time, you must turn your back on him and call the police when and if he is threatening in any way.

I take no pleasure in saying these things and fully understand how emotionally heart wrenching to do these things, yet, these are the only means of hope at this point.

Dr. Schwartz

Weed & Cheap Cider - Carole - Aug 4th 2009

My son is disappearing right in front of me I don't mean physically I mean emotionally and mentally, he uses weed and drinks cheap cider every day. He is violent, bad tempered aggressive, intimidating, he lies constantly, he has sold all of his belongings, me and my partner are going through a separation because of him, I hate to admit but I am frightened of him and what he is capable of doing, he is filled with so much hatred towards me and blames me for everything in his life I think he does this because it justifies to him the way he treats me.  I feel like I am going to have a nervous breakdown, he was diagnosed as having ADHD as a child and I think he has other underlying mental problems, no one will help me.

how to contact - - Jul 31st 2009

Can anyone tell me how to contact Randa I'm still in love with her and have a very long and painful story to share with her....Dan

stopped meds, started pot smoking - Randa P - Feb 14th 2009

 I stopped my meds for everything after moving from another state.  I have situation going on where I am in denial, possibly, of my pot abuse and have forgotten the recovery from pot abruse and bi-polar (I am not sure) that I was so lucky to get. 

I know tools to use and am self aware, Iid like to think. 

My Co. Mental Hlth Sys.  advises I go immediatly into a recovery house and after a ref from them....when and if my systoms neccessate..that I can be looked at by them as they only serve people who are chronicly or severely mentally ill. 

i was angry, but was good to feel..that  as I don't usually.  So, this just fed into my denial that I am not mentally ill.  

I have a hearing about disablity and I don't have a dr or connection to these services.  I know this day would come someday.  I don't care anymore about it, even if I should.  No one likes to think of themselfs as mentally ill. 

Pot relaxes me, helps w/ small pains, etc. anyway..I am happy that I moved back to CA, as I missed my family.

I can see what was said about hurting those around you.  I can also see that this can be a non issue for others.

Marijuana - SAB - Feb 6th 2009

I personally have alot of experience when it comes to this topic. I smoke weed when i wake, before class, after class, before work, after work, before bed, during the good times and the bad. It calms my soul. I become more in touch with myself. I am more sensitive. I am happy. I will admit, having children would definitly put a hault on my habit. However there is a time and place for every action and reaction, you should know when to and when not to. And for non-smokers, "..judge not before you boo yourself, judge not, or your'e not ready for nothing.." I would say an addiction to marijuana is equivalent to addiction to coca-cola, or addiction to coffe. Something that changes your feeling and mood, but not necessarily your perception. I think the relation to people with changed perceptions and smoking marijuana occurs before the excessive use of marijuana. Perhaps it the society that which we live in that is so intolerable and has too high of expectations of the human body, mind, and soul.

 "A friend close by, that'll get you high, with a little bit of weed is a friend indeed" not because you need it or have to have it but it will make you feel better. Its like people who take an aspirin everyday, or their vitamins. They have to take them to make them feel better. It is natural, you must know that it is an herb. An herb that you can cook with, you can make wonderful teas, and it grows from the ground.

Marijuana has been smoked loong before our time, and always will be. You ask why do I do it? Let me ask you why should I not? It makes me happy, calm, increases my appetite(Im under weight naturally, so it helps me in that department), it gives my friends and I reason to get together and have good times(instead of filling my room with consumerist, shallow, on the surface ,products of new age cable-watching, 58 dollar shirt wearing, whats the hottest whatever) Me and my crew we like to stick to the basics in our all natural self state of mind. Not be so paranoid about our outer appearances, have some thoughtful conversations and strive to not be different, but ourselves.

I wish upon all people that when told something you ask yourself in your head:

  • who?
  • what?
  • when?
  • where?
  • and the most important question in the whole wide world is WHY?

Just put a little more thought into what you believe and dont beleive, you might be surprised as to what YOU think about it, and why.

Gateway - - Aug 23rd 2008

Perhaps it isn't the fact that marijuana is ok for you because it is herbal, or not nearly as potent as other drugs. Maybe it's because it is considered the "gateway drug" by many. No one is saying you are going to be dumb or not as smart as people who do not smoke marijuana, but it has the potential. I, personally, find this to be true. I do not smoke marijuana but my boyfriend has for the last four years and has lied about it for the last four years. Trying to put aside the sour taste that has left in my mouth, he can still not escape it because of all the influences around him. So my question...what is the point? If there is an actual answer as to why people  smoke marijuana or what joy it brings I would like to know.

be true to yourself - - Aug 14th 2008

Even if you users feel that it doesn't hurt you, it does hurt the people around you (the people that love you, the children that look up to you, and of course your significant other). It's quite heart breaking to find out that the one person that you're suppose to trust, and believe in, and be your soulmate has been lying to you for 20 years. His marijuana addiction has made him have to lie to me, sneek around, use "our" money for his own personal gain while the children or I have gone without. Many of times I actually thought he was having an affair because he was gone so often or acted strange when asked where he'd been. As of today he still refuses to give up the marijuana, I've tried to understand but cannot. I am not bragging, but, I am very proud to say that I am a person that has never done drugs, never cigarettes, and very little to no drinking - so any addiction of any kind is just mind boggling to me. Why would you want to destroy your own body? Let alone hurt the people around you?

As if it wasn't enough that I was lied to about marijuana, within the last few months I've finally been told the truth (after he had been lying to me many many times) about his prior use with Meth and his continued use with not only marijuana but also crack cocaine. I have read that most cocaine addicts started out with using "just" marijuana then progress to stronger drugs to give them a better high. I think almost daily about leaving him, I sometimes wish that he would get caught by the police so that he would have to get help, I've begged and pleaded with him, I've yelled and threaten him, I've been silent and ignored him. Nothing I say or do will change him - he has to make this decision on his own -  and sadly I realize this. There was this one time when I hadn't heard from him in three days, I didn't know how he was let alone where he was. There was nothing I could do but worry and wait. Why would anyone want to do this to the person he says he loves.

Drugs have caused many bad things to happen to my family. There has been 2 cop killings, there is death row, there is a daddy that will never hold his only child, there is the fear that my children will as well lose there dad, there is the loneliness and depression that I feel every day, there has been robbery, forgery and possibly home foreclosure. Life as I knew it, as well as my children, will never be same. All of this only pertains to my family - God only knows what ripple effects this has caused to others.

After reading a book called "Broken" I've come to realize that drug addicts have an actual "love affair" with the drugs. And that no matter what you say to them or do to them or for them it'll never be a better high then the high they get from the drugs they use. It's sad for me to think that I will never pleasure my man more then a drug can - so I guess in some ways he is having an affair - a drug love affair.

So to all you addicts that go out and get high, whether it be occasional or daily use, don't sit there and tell me that it's alright and that it doesn't hurt anybody else. You're just making up excuses to yourself. And for all you that are going through something similar as I am please remember it's not your fault and there is nothing you can change about them until that person wants to change.

Sadly, I hang on to my high school sweetheart, hoping that someday he will want to hold onto me tighter then his addictions.

Cannabis - "alternative states of consciousness" ? - JR - Feb 19th 2008

Just a thought on this.  Buddhism generally rejects the use of mind-altering substances - other than in the strictly medicinal sense - on the basis that they actually inhibit the attainment of a genuinely enhanced level of consciousness/awareness.  Nothing like a good fix to mess up your meditation and blur your connection with the Real.  This goes for my own former poison (alcohol), opiates, cocaine, cannabis, as well as a multitude of other substances (in our terms) both legal and illegal.  Just because there is something that we call "Big Buddha cannabis" does not mean that The Man Himself approved of such stuff - evidence is that he did not.

Mind you, Buddhism is, so to speak, a very broad church, and may well incorporate alternative points of view on this. There never has been a Buddhist pope.  Perhaps there is a Smoking Botisattva out there somewhere ...

Peace and Love,


Parent of a smoker - DEE - Feb 18th 2008

I came to this site to help educate myself on this drug we call mary jane.....I read the things people have to say, yet no one talks about what it does to a family, I have a 19 year old who is hook on this drug and it has tore us up. My son was this all american boy into sports, a-b student in school, very popular, clean cut handsome young man, he did this 360 on my at the age of 16, someone had introduced him to it, I never thought my son would turn out the way he is now, I have talked with all kinds of people trying to get advice to help save my son, no one really knows what to say because people just are afraid to talk about it, some said "hey let him do it he's growing up,,, or they say I did it when I was younger ...It's a faze he's growing. The one comment that got to me was, he will never stop it's in him. My son now sits in jail beacause of this drug, he has changed so much and I have no choice to leave him there at least I know he's not smoking and in the streets. To the next mother that reads this "never give up". I will get my son through this and I pray for yours.

- - Jul 29th 2007

I smoked with Lex for awhile, it was fine for me at least.  So it may be somthing with the Clo, it would be worth talking to the Dr about, they won't report him or anything.

studying with marijuana - elma - Jul 15th 2007

I also think marijuana is attacked way too heavily... Within approximately a decade I have achieved 4 degrees (including a PhD) in 4 different languages+ countries, and the last three degrees I have been smoking DAILY. I smoked light joints while studying, which made me slower, yes, but much more efficient in getting concentrated on what I was doing. Plus, because marijuana makes you feel everything around you more intensely, it can foster such an enthusiasm about the subject matter...and get you stuck with studying for more hours than you ever thought you could possibly sit on a chair:) 

Fair Play on Cannabis - mike - Jun 10th 2007

I feel stronly that Cannabis gets an unfair press. I have smoked several to 6 or 7 Cannabis joints daily for 90% of the previous 27 years. I am 44. I passed only 4 GCE 'O' levels (UK educational system) at age 16, before I even tried Cannabis. At 28, after smoking cannabis for the previous 11 years regularly, I achieved a 2.1 Psychology Degee at a UK University, coming in 5th position among a class of nearly 100. The first four places got 1st Class Hounours degrees. I only stopped smoking Cannabis for 6 weeks prior to my exams. I believe that Cannnabis does affect short term memory loss, but mainly with regard to those items cannabis smokers were not paying attention to (encoding into memory) in the first place. I have personally never claimed benefit and have worked all my life as an Teacher.

Providing we are dealing with adults in the privacy of their homes, temporarily free from adult responsibilities, how can the state presume to control the right of an individual to use their legitimate leisure time in the pursuit of alternative states of consciousness? With a high level degree in Psychology, I have a natural interest in such areas of human experience and resent considerably the control of the state. Laizzes-faire!

False Information - Responsible Marijuana Smoker - Jan 31st 2007

While I understand that marijuana can be "abused" somewhat, I have noticed a few false "facts" presented on this page. First of all, marijuana has not ever been proven to cause cancer. Infact, it has been proven to PREVENT cancer. THC doesn't dock onto the cells that line the respiratory tract as nicotine does (which often progress into tumors). Not to mention many chemicals in cannabis have been known to kill many types of cancer. On a side note, I believe amotivational symptom to be a cause of smoking, not a result. As for saying that marijuana "interfere with intellectual performance", why am I able to make 99s on my math exams? I was dissapointed that such a seemingly knowledgable site would put false information on an important subject such as marijuana. I agree it is not good for many situations, but I would appreciate you giving people the straight facts and letting them decide for themselves. Please help stop spreading propoganda. Jason King, author of The Cannabible, provided the information on cancer.

Editor's Note: The information presented in this article was factually correct to the best of our knowledge at the time the article was last reviewed and we will stand by it until our next review (including the stuff about it causing cancer). Statements about the effects of marijuana (or any drug or medication) are statements about average effects across large groups of people. Individual milage will vary. Consider that if you are a regular user of cannabis, you are not objective; you are also going to be incapable of judging the degree to which you might be impaired by your cannabis use. Perhaps you are starting from a baseline of great intelligence and you don't notice the impairments that may be present. You would need to be tested by a neuropsychologist to establish any pattern of deficits that might be present. While cannabis is not in the same league as "harder" drugs like cocaine, amphetamine and heroin, just the same, it cannot be recommended on this basis either. It is still a powerful drug that can cause significant impairment when misused, and it is still quite illegal (in the United States). "Words to the wise" have to be "stay away", and "do not use".

Clonidine, Lexapro, and Weed - Former smoker - Dec 28th 2006
Your friend should really think about cutting out the weed while on psych meds. I have bipolar disorder and was using the above meds and smoking weed daily for some time. My blood pressure shot up to pretty dangerous levels at one point (lightheaded, fatigued, headaches, etc.) Just something to think about.

do you know? - Lisa - Nov 15th 2006
I have a friend who smokes Pot and his doctor just put him on clonodine and lexapro and he didnt tell the doctor he smokes-does anyone know if this will kill him or cause burning sensations on the body,he smoked and said he felt like he was on fire? What if any side effects are there with lexapro and clonodine?thanks Please email me if you know,or where i can find out?