The buds of the flowering tops of the female of the Cannabis indica species of hemp, considered as a drug. (The buds of some C. sativa strains may also be considered marijuana; however, they are much less potent.) Marijuana has been used as a medicine and a recreational drug throughout human history. Its medical uses and cultural importance are discussed elsewhere in this node (and other nodes); this writeup discusses the technology of its use.

The pharmacologically active ingredients of marijuana are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as well as various cannabinoids. To be of use, these chemicals must be unbound from the cells of the plant. (Eating marijuana raw is not very effective, as the human digestive system cannot break down the plant's cell walls.) Most marijuana users do this by smoking the buds; however, THC can also be extracted through vaporization, cooking in oil, or by dissolving it out in alcohol. THC is also present in hashish, the resin of the marijuana buds, which is not discussed below.

Smoking: Marijuana is usually smoked in cigarettes, pipes, or water pipes. When smoked in cigarettes, it may be mixed with tobacco; this "joining" of two herbs gives rise to the term "joint", which is still used even though this mixing is rare nowadays. Pipes for marijuana smoking take many forms, but tend to be compact in size. Unlike tobacco pipes, which are designed to preserve and improve the flavor of the smoke, marijuana pipes are designed for concealment or to intensify the "hit" of smoke. Some pipes, known as stash pipes, have a chamber in the stem which may be also filled with marijuana. As the smoke passes over the stored herb, THC-bearing resin is deposited in it, making it more powerful.

Water pipes deserve special notice. All water pipes cool the smoke by bubbling it through water. (Other fluids are rarely used. The use of alcoholic beverages in a water pipe is counterproductive, as THC dissolves in alcohol; see below.) There are two major varieties of water pipe -- the bong or bhong, which has a single fixed cylindrical mouthpiece; and the hookah, which may have several mouthpieces on hoses, for multiple smokers. The design of some bongs and hookahs is quite elaborate, and in some cases quite decorative as well.

Marijuana smokers have also been known to improvise smoking implements when no proper one is available. Marijuana may be smoked out of a cored-out apple, an empty soda can with holes punched in it, or any number of similar kludges.

Vaporization: The most recently devised way to consume marijuana is to volatilize the active ingredients out from it without burning. This may be done with electric heating devices which resemble bongs or hookahs, or with special pipes similar to crack pipes. Vaporization may be more healthful than smoking, since it avoids the production of tar, carbon monoxide, and other smoke constituents.

Cooking: When marijuana is added to oily or fatty foods and cooked, the THC dissolves into the oil. Some marijuana eaters use the more fragrant varieties of the plant as a spice, particularly on pizza or other foods where oregano might be used. It has also been baked into cookies, fried in butter which is then used in other foodstuffs, and melted into cheese. When cooking with marijuana, more THC will be extracted if one grinds the herb finely first; this increases the surface area accessible to the oil.

Dissolving: THC is insoluble in water, but very soluble in ethanol. It may thus be extracted by steeping the plant in vodka or any other relatively neutral spirit. Enterprising users have found this a useful way to extract THC from the stems and leaves, which are not preferred for smoking: by steeping the otherwise useless plant parts in vodka for a matter of weeks, they produce a beverage which causes the drinker to become both stoned and drunk. Extraction into oil or other solvents is also practical, and is used in the preparation of Marinol.

'Marijuana', literally 'the weed that intoxicates', was a mexican term adopted into the english language by Harry Anslinger in the early part of the 20th cetury in order to provide a xenophobic label for the plant he sought to outlaw. The same plant that had had its extractums used on 3 generations of americans previously for medical and recreational purposes.

Like cocaine, the early hysteria concerning marijuana usage was largely race-based, in both instances it was claimed that the drug made black slaves insolent (they'd walk on white men's shadows, look them straight in the eyes and refuse to go to the back of the trolley, that sort of evil insubordination), made decent white women look twice at blacks (see also jazz, hot clubs) and other such claptrap.

Marijuana is rare in that its danger is not only a danger, but indeed its primary appeal. Consuming THC leads to a sense of well being and philosophical connection with the universe as a whole. This state of near-Zen is consuming and incomparable. While in this state one has transcended even the meaning of answers to questions; the uneducated can often sufficiently tackle complex philosophical matters, and an educated person becomes an instant master of thought-fu.

The danger is this: All the time when one is stoned there is the lingering feeling that there is another level of awareness beyond reach, a state of one-ness so close to perfection as to be god-like. It is difficult to turn one's back on this, and too often one's life can be consumed, trying to reach this perfect state (or high, whichever term you prefer). One forsakes job and friends, reaching for heavier chemicals, building addictions and dependancies, spending thousands of dollars per year on one's habits.

To those who would say, "marijuana is not addictive" I point out that any sensory experience can be addictive, even voicing one's opinions in exchange for 'experience points'. Marijuana is no different in this way from religion, violence, video games, heroin, the stock exchange, science, or gambling.

This plague must be quelled! place higher sanctions on the use and traffic of marijuana.

After reading this over I feel that I ought to add that I wrote it in satire, and still mean for it to be read as such.
America’s relationship with marijuana has been conspicuosly tumultuous and political. In this century, marijuana, a substance that has enjoyed a rich medical history dating back thousands of years, has been relegated to merely another target in the war on drugs. Such a war has been responsible for thousands of casualties in individuals suffering from illnesses such as cancer and AIDS, who cannot receive legally a form of treatment which can relieve their pain. Consequently, many otherwise law-abiding citizens have been forced to violate federal law. In many cases, these same individuals face criminal prosecution and possible incarceration. The recent burgeoning of medical marijuana laws in states throughout that country suggests that Americans will no longer tolerate this treatment of the seriously ill. The federal government could elect the respect to the will of people by rescheduling marijuana or by exercising their prosecutorial discretion in a way that formally ends the prosecution of medical marijuana patients. It also can choose to protect the citizens against themselves. If so, should it be consistent with the notions of fairness, liberty and justice?
I would really like to know just why this substance is illegal. For starters, it can be used for medicinal purposes, that alone is reason enough to legalise it as a medical implement, but the problem I am further addressing is cigarettes, tobacco and nicotine.

Nicotine is highly addictive, and physically addictive. Marijuana, and more specifically THC, is an addictive drug, although only mentally. Above that tobacco smoke causes serious health problems, such as cancer, "smoker's cough", stained teeth, chronic halitosis, filling of the lungs with tar etc. Marijuana also causes health problems, such as dementia etc., which seem like much greater problems. I concede; they are, but they only occur after prolonged and constant use.

The fatality rates of smoking are also far greater than that of marijuana. Smoking stunts growth and lowers the average age of death. Marijuana can also do this, but once again only with chronic use. The biggest trump card, in my opinion, is that one with a strong constitution does not need to become addicted to marijuana. I smoke marijuana on occasion, but I can go for days, weeks or months without touching the stuff. A smoker must smoke a cigarette, at least once a day, more commonly once an hour.

Tobacco smoking is a serious health risk, and it is a serious problem. It is a plague, not Marijuana smoking. If Tobacco is a legal drug, then it is a rather serious hypocrisy to illegalise marijuana smoking.

There, I've said, my two bits on marijuana.

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