Marijuana is the most widely used illegal substance in the world today. Its use
is also the most controversial. With legalization efforts underway, it is important
to have the facts. Marijuana is currently legal in some form in eleven states in
the U.S. Other states are evaluating legalization. Some cities have legalized marijuana
like Brekenridge, Colorado, however, the state of Colorado nor the Federal Government
has legalized the growing or use of marijuana.
Marijuana is made from the plant cannabis sativa, a plant that grows wild (and is
also cultivated indoors and out) throughout many regions. Most of the marijuana
used in the United States comes from sources in the U.S., Mexico ("Mexican Red/Brown"),
and Canada ("BC Bud").
Marijuana consists of the buds, leaves, and resin of the cannabis plant. The stalks
and sterilized seeds are considered "hemp." The plant, cannabis sativa, contains
chemicals called "cannabinoids."
THC (delta-9-tetrhydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid believed to be responsible
for the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
THC can be found in all parts of the cannabis plant, including hemp. This is why
hemp is regulated carefully - some hemp products such as clothing, rope, yarn, lotion
and soap are legal products because they do not cause THC to enter the human body.
"While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all
parts of the plant, including hemp, have been found to contain THC. The existence
of THC in hemp is significant because THC, like marijuana, is a schedule I controlled
"Smoking marijuana may increase the risk of cancer more than smoking tobacco. Marijuana
smoke contains 50% to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke.
It also produces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into
their carcinogenic form - levels that may accelerate the changes that ultimately
produce malignant cells." (Source: NIDA)