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Marijuana is a plant (Cannabis spp.) that contains a complex of psychoactive substances, the most notable of these being tetrahydrocannabinol (usually shortened to THC). Wait, did I say that out loud? Cool!...what? Oh, yeah...It has been selectively bred to increase - although not by as much as some media reports suggest - the concentration of these chemicals by many faithful adherents to its use. While it is usually eaten or smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes or various kinds of pipes, the active ingredients can be extracted and taken in pill form.
Another way to partake is by means of a vaporizer. This device heats the plant material to a precise temperature at which the psychoactive component sublimates/evaporates, thereby releasing it from the plant material itself, without releasing the potentially carcinogenic compounds, allowing one to enjoy the high without risking lung cancer. Alas, cheap vaporizers tend to release a few of the carcinogens (not as many as smoking the stuff, but still more than a quality vaporizer would release) and a good vaporizer is very, very expensive.
 Bio-neurological use
 Low dosage effects
In low doses, marijuana induces mild euphoria followed by a sense of general relaxation and well-being. Users often report heightened perceptions of music, colours and taste. Its effects at these doses are best likened to those of moderate alcohol consumption, but without the same degree of motor impairment and without the disinhibition towards aggression. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to start a fight when stoned.
 High dosage effects
In higher doses, marijuana can induce mild to moderate hallucinations. Unlike the direct distortions of sense perception produced by LSD or psilocybin these hallucinations are mostly functions of the user's hyper-stimulated imagination. There is a small risk of adverse side-effects and their likelihood increases with the dosage. They range from the merely inconvenient (short-term memory loss), through to the somewhat unnerving (paranoia/anxiety) and finally to the downright unpleasant (overwhelming fear or disorientation/vomiting).
Have you ever looked at your hand? I mean really looked at your hand?...oh, yeah. Sorry, man...Chronic misuse of marijuana has been widely identified as a significant risk factor for those with a predisposition towards developing various mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. However, it should be noted that people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder often "self-medicate" to relieve the symptoms of their disorders. Scientific studies of marijuana use, like the one released on 26 June 2007, rarely take into account that the mental disorders of habitual users often go undiagnosed until after the patient has become a habitual marijuana user. It's possible that studies like the one mentioned above are politically motivated. People with pre-existing mental disorders also tend to abuse alcohol and tobacco. Yet, similar studies linking booze and cigarettes - both legal and heavily taxed - to mental illnesses are less common than those that focus just on marijuana. Therefore, the link between marijuana use and mental illness may be an instance when correlation does not equal causation.
Recent studies also indicated that brain structures such as the amygdala and hippocampus may shrink due to extremely chronic use, on the order of five "marijuana cigarettes" a day for upwards of twenty years, in the case of one study. Preliminary research also suggests that regular cannabis use may lower IQ especially in teenagers who use regularly while their brains are developing. Further research is needed. 
The term "chronic" is also used colloquially to describe marijuana of unusually high quality.
Even for people without a predisposition to mental illness, long-term habitual misuse often results in the user becoming both very bored and very boring. The key seems to be remembering what the word "recreational" means and moderating one's level of use accordingly.
 Sam's ditchweed
In the U.S., research into such issues as marijuana for medical use is restricted to the supply of government-grown plants, which are of poor quality (potency), a sore point with many researchers in the field.
 Canada may legalize
If R v Mernagh is upheld on appeal (the decision should come anytime now), marijuana will be effectively legal to possess and grow for personal use (selling is still illegal no matter what) in at least Ontario, if not the rest of Canada. Since the medical marijuana program is almost entirely useless, the alternative decision is to scrap it and end prohibition against personal possession and cultivation. That is, if the government doesn't appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
 Two US states legalize marijuana
On November 7th, 2012 two US states, Colorado and Washington, have decriminalized cannabis through voter approval. Other municipalities (the first being Breckenridge, Colorado) have previously decriminalized cannabis. The immediate actions taken by state officials after decriminalization were to dismiss any pending cannabis related court cases, such as possession. Amnesty for those already convicted of cannabis crimes may be forthcoming, and regulations to license and tax cannabis sales are soon to be in the works.
When traveling, carrying any illegal drugs is ill-advised, especially if traveling by airplane or if crossing international borders. While some sensibly refuse to travel with marijuana, traveling to marijuana is a different matter.
 Reasons to visit The Netherlands
Marijuana, and its more concentrated cousin hashish, while still technically illegal in the Netherlands, are available in local coffeshops. As long as you don't actually blow hash smoke in a police officer's face, the policy is one of non-enforcement. Recently, the Dutch government announced that tourists would be banned from these shops. Bummer!
It is also the home of Cantheism - a "religious belief" in the power and inherent goodness of
getting wasted the cannabis plant.
 Reasons to visit Zearing, Iowa
During the 1970s, to distract Americans from the Vietnam War and Watergate, President Richard Nixon declared marijuana a 'gateway drug' and instituted a program to eradicate the plant where it grew wild, especially in the Midwest and more particularly in the fertile farmland in central Iowa. Between Clemons and Zearing, near Marshalltown, Iowa, this became known as The Great Bonfire of 1971.
In Rastafari, marijuana is a sacrament.
It is also believed by some rabbinical scholars that when the Jews still had a temple in Jerusalem, the "holy anointing oil" used there for religious rituals had some cannabis content.
Like most "street drugs", marijuana has a proliferation of slang terms surrounding it. This is but a sample:
- joint (for a marijuana cigarette)
- blunt (for a marijuana cigar)
- 4-20, 4/20, 4:20
- shake (leftover dust and crumbs)
- reggie (low quality marijuana)
- mid (supposedly medium quality marijuana, but more often than not is not much better than reggie.)
- dank (The good stuff.)
- kush (Another name for the good stuff.)
- MJ or Mary Jane
- Skunk (the strong stuff)
 Some potheads
- William F. Buckley
- Bill Clinton (but didn't inhale)[citation NOT needed]
- Barack Obama (did inhale, "that was the point")
- Carl Sagan
 Stoners in popular culture
Stoners can become a bit of a bore about their new found friend. A classic example is the rap group Cypress Hill who never shut up about "Mary Jane".
Pineapple Express, a story about two perpetual stoners caught up in a murder.
The Big Lebowski, a story about a stoner caught up in a kidnapping. The film spawned a religion, "Dudeism" involving pot, bowling and White Russians.
Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke, a story about more perpetual stoners, this time smuggling pot from Mexico to the US. Cheech and Chong's other movies feature similar positive views on marijuana. Tommy Chong has been a long-time advocate of marijuana, and is often typecast as a hippie or stoner in other films and television shows, such as That 70's Show and Cars.
- "Toking" with Lawrence Welk, Welk thinks "One Toke Over the Line" is a "modern spiritual."
- Reefer Madness!
 See also
- ↑ "Smoking Marijuana Ups Risk of Schizophrenia: Study", Reuters Website, 26 June 2007.
- ↑ Young cannabis smokers run risk of lower IQ, report claims
- ↑ The plants are grown in a carefully concealed, undisclosed location.
- ↑ "Holland's Pot Tourism Set to Go Up in Smoke
- ↑ Granny and the Great Smoke-out
- ↑ attributed to Nixon as 'roofers' in Firesign Theatre skit
- ↑ The Collected Controversies of William F. Buckley
- ↑ Barack Obama, asked about drug history, admits he inhaled, The New York Times