The Most Widely Used Illicit Drug in the United States

            Marijuana or Cannabis is extracted from Cannabis sativa- a hemp plant. While the world views it just another illicit drug, marijuana has actually been popular for more than its psychoactive ingredients. The drug is valued for its medical benefits and the proponents of legalization of this drug maintain that it can be used to treat several conditions including nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting. According to a handout by Am Fam Physician, marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. The handout whether identifies the adverse and some possible beneficial effects of marijuana:.

             Adverse effects from marijuana use include decreased coordination, epithelial damage to the lungs, increased risk of infection, cardiovascular effects and cognitive deficits. Unexplained behavior changes, altered social relationships and poor performance at school or work can signify a drug problem. Treatment requires a combination of education, social support, drug monitoring and attention to comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions. (Am Fam Physician 1999;60: 2583-93.).

             Marijuana was widely used in the US prior to Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 which officially brought the drug under federal regulation. Even after this legislation, the drug was extensively used for various purposes and its use peaked in the 60s. According to a National Household Survey on Drug Abuse 19992, 5 million Americans were consuming marihuana every week. It was popular among school students with 70 percent of them admitting to using in the past month while 2 to 3 percent were found using it daily. (1).

             The use of this drug was however limited in people between 26 and 34 and 5 percent of those above 35 used it daily.

             Marijuana is believed to have some medical benefits which are hitherto not backed by any major study. On the contrary, some studies have found that marijuana might have adverse effects on people with certain pre-existing conditions.

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