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Marijuana is a mixture of the flowers, stems, seeds and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis, the primary psychoactive ingredient of which is Δ9-THC. Cannabinoids have two accepted medical uses in the United States, although many other potential medical uses are being considered. Marijuana is also the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. It produces intoxicating effects when ingested, and higher doses are associated with psychedelic-like effects, such as an increased sensitivity to sound and a keener appreciation of rhythm and timing.

Following ingestion, Δ9-THC has a peculiar distribution in the body, initially sequestering in vascularized tissue and later in fat-rich tissues. There are a number of pathological effects of intoxication or chronic high-dose use. The behavioral mechanism of the action of cannabinoids is hypothesized to include perceptual disinhibition of both external and internal cues or states without motivational disinhibition. Marijuana produces a substance use disorder (DSM-5 criteria) or Substance Dependence (DSM-IV criteria) with many characteristics similar to other drugs of abuse.

The discovery of cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors and high-potency ligands in the brain led to the identification of anandamide and 2-AG. These endocannabinoids act as neuromodulators in the central nervous system and regulate brain excitability through local actions on presynaptic GABA and glutamate neurons.


cannabinoid; cannabis; marijuana; (−)Δ9-6a,10a-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol; Δ9-THC; Spice; drug; abuse; addiction; medical use; behavioral effects; anandamide

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