Understanding Marijuana: Facts, Legal Status, and Health Impacts

Understanding Marijuana: Facts, Legal Status, and Health Impacts

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, weed, pot, or dope, refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant. This plant contains more than 100 compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is impairing, and cannabidiol (CBD), which is not. THC is the main ingredient responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. An estimated 36.4 million individuals aged 12 or older used marijuana in 2021. Despite being federally illegal, marijuana is legal for medical or non-medical adult use in some states. However, its use can lead to negative health consequences, especially if used at a young age.

Recently, President Biden announced a significant shift in federal policy regarding marijuana. He pardoned all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana and is taking steps to reevaluate marijuana’s status. Despite this, marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, as reported by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This classification indicates a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

The Federal Status of Marijuana and the Expanding Policy Gap with States highlights the discrepancies between federal and state laws. States have their own laws and policies allowing for cultivation, sale, distribution, and possession of marijuana, which sometimes conflict with federal law.

The CDC is actively working to understand the public health impacts of marijuana use. In 2019, an estimated 48.2 million people used it in the United States, making it the most commonly used federally illegal drug. Research suggests that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana may develop a marijuana use disorder, with a higher risk for those who begin using before age 18.

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Lastly, marijuana laws vary significantly from one state, county, or city to another. For detailed information on state-specific marijuana laws, the Marijuana Resource Center: State Laws Related to Marijuana provides comprehensive insights.

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