Flickr image credit: Tomas de Aquino
Marijuana is the slang term for portions of the Cannabis plant. It is one of the oldest psychoactive substances used by man.
Marijuana, also called pot, weed, ganja, mary jane, and a host of other nicknames, is made from the Cannabis plant, which has three species:Cannabis sativa; Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis.
The flowering plant, which can grow to 16 feet (5 meters) high, likely originates in the Central Asian steppe, near the Altai or Tian Shian Mountains, and was first cultivated in China and India, according to "Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Potential," (Routledge, 2002).
Medical marijuana advocates tout the drugs' ability to soothe nausea and increase appetite, quiet pain, soothe anxiety and even reduce epileptic seizures. However, because research on the drug is so tightly restricted, few studies have tested these medical claims.
Short-term use of the drug impairs thinking and coordination, and in long-term studies, teens who smoke marijuana have lower IQs later on, as well as structural differences in their brains, though scientists debate whether this is an effect of the drug or a result of habitual pot smokers seeking out less intellectually stimulating pursuits. Marijuana use has been linked to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, according to NIDA. Marijuana smokers are also likelier to suffer from bronchitis, according to a 2014 New England Journal of Medicine review of marijuana's health effects.
A Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative did not make the November 8, 2016 ballot in Nebraska as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would have legalized personal noncommercial cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana for any patient with a debilitating medical condition as determined by a licensed physician.
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